Photo by Teresa Kluge on Unsplash


Business as war, or what the language you use says about your company’s culture

Does the language we use in the workplace reflect our style of conducting business or the other way around?

Is a company’s culture expressed in the communication it employs or perhaps shaped by it?

It’s a question of the old chicken-or-egg category. Many, if not all, global organizations have their official language policies. They usually focus on professional impression, appropriateness of the register, widely understood formality, indirectness and being politically correct. Some go as far as attempting to increase the effectiveness by adjusting the clarity of the language they use in both internal and external exchanges. Few are aware that the standard and commonly used expressions may actually have opposite effect to the desired one. Or are they?

Take, for example, the fact that many people and organizations perceive doing business as synonymous with waging a war. It’s no accident since many business strategies and management techniques were first developed in the military. Actually, it’s quite natural that we think about business competition in terms of war. Companies fight each other for market share. We strategize about how to win the battle. You try to attack my market position, and I defend it. If I win I will most certainly lay waste to your land and gain ground while I am at it. Business is full of such war idioms. Though it’s not the only way we think about business, it is certainly the prevalent manner in which we talk about it.

So who in your company calls the shots? Who finds themselves in the firing line when things go wrong? Who is the loose cannon that may catch you off guard? Do you bite the bullet, even if the project you are working on is a long shot or are you fighting a losing or an uphill battle on an uneven field?

In the times of all-encompassing global cooperation and team-spirit winning hands-down as one of the most desired features of corporate culture — isn’t it about time to bury the hatchet?