Communicate Process Changes in Language People Understand

Change is NEVER easy – it is especially difficult when we use impractical jargon to communicate it. Imagine walking into a meeting where suddenly you are presented diagrams, workflows, Confluence pages, etc. Oh, and you hear buzzwords like sponsorship, agile, holistic and my personal favorite (worst): Pivot. How we deal with change directly relates to how we talk about change and how we treat people when we want something to move or be done differently.

One of my least favorite things about communication is the level of buzzwords we use when trying to convey an important message. For example, who has not been a victim of a phrase, or similar, like “Our lean solution is disrupting the ______vertical through an innovative approach in managing data”?

WHAT?!

This type of communication often reminds me of websites checking for web bots and you have to confirm a series of jumbled letters to prove you are in fact not a robot. Really, what is the point of using so many buzzwords to state that our company/department needs to make some necessary changes? Do not ask me to synergize with other departments. You can, however, ask me to collaborate. To me, there is something human between buzzwords and day to day terms. When a manager or executive communicate a change to me in words that make sense to me I am more open to the message.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

  • Nelson Mandela

When we talk about change we often miss the fact that we are dealing with humans and that it is these very humans that we are asking to not just make the change but to drive it to success. I recently read an article about Change Management and fell in love with the way it highlighted the different types of change. The first point they make talks about training and what tools the individual will need to be successful. Well, the first item we should all consider is making sure we are communicating in their language if we are expecting them to make the proposed changes. Do not waste their time with fluff and buzzwords – speak to them as normal human beings and be ready to field human questions.

To be clear, it is important to have a clear vision and executive buy-in as part of any change. We are in a business setting after all – but certainly, that does not mean we can not speak in simple terms. Then again maybe it is all part of the fun of working in startups – if that is, in fact, the case I suggest playing Buzzword Bingo. Here is a list of buzzwords to get you started.

Overall anytime we are asking someone to change their ways or mindset we should expect some resistance. My point (if you have not gotten it yet) is that you need to be clear. Do not treat your employees or co-workers as if they are robots – leave the jargon for the thesaurus.


Gary Marroquin is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Customer Success Podcast. He is currently a Technical Customer Success Manager with Label Insight.

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