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Keeping Your Job, Know The Organizational Language
26 Nov 2018

Keeping Your Job By Using The Company Lingo In All Communications

Keeping your job might just come down to how well you use the company lingo. How? Well, remember the childhood game, “Which one doesn’t belong?” It happens in the workplace too. Words, phrases and communication style give clues as to “which ones don’t belong.”

Who’s At Risk

Many studies have looked at the effect of fitting into the culture of organizations:

One theme appears to be pervasive: those who are able to fit culturally enjoy significant benefits, whether in psychological well-being, increased performance, favorable perceptions by colleagues, or likelihood or retention. (See page 20, “Discussion and Conclusion”).

In this particular study, it looked at over ten million emails from a mid-sized tech company over five years. It found that the firm was more likely to fire a young, new hire if his lingo did not fit the firm’s. A senior, established employee was more likely to quit if her lingo did not keep up with the change in the firm’s.

To quantify this a bit, consider promotions. Those whose lingo fit the firm’s the best were almost three times more likely to receive a promotion in the first three months than the worst fits. Again, the study only looked at word choice and usage. It did not look at job performance.

Keeping your job means finding the right words for the business culture and using them.

Employees – who use the words and phrases commonly used in the company’s culture in its dominant style – are more likely to keep their jobs and to get promotions.

Keeping Your Job Means Talking The Talk

Many things go into culture. Words are just one type. Yet, they are like music. If people hear music that they’re not used to, they tend to not like it. Likewise, if they hear communication styles that don’t fit in, they’re not apt to like them either. They’re styles that “don’t belong.”

People don’t think this though. It’s unconscious. They’ll just attribute their dislike to something else. “I don’t like her ideas,” and “He’s kind of pushy,” are examples. In other words, speaking differently from cultural norms is not “music to one’s ears.”

Keeping Your Job Means Finding The Right Words

Therefore, keeping your job means finding the right words. There’s no time to do a thorough study of the company’s word and phrasing preferences. So, look to the leaders. The best are the fast risers, recently promoted. More senior ones might not be up to date.

Listen to them. Read their emails. Look for patterns. Run their text through tools such as wordle.net and wordcounter.net. They’ll show patterns and preferences. Track the buzzwords.

Finally, look at the connotations of the words. Are they self-interested, altruistic, innovative, routine, etc.? Remember, can you get hired in a foreign country without knowing the language? The same holds true for firms’ language preferences.

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