The Advantages of Being “Multi-Lingual”

The late quality guru, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, frequently noted that executives speak the language of money. And employees speak the language of things. If you wish to be effective, he would assert, if you wish to assume a leadership role, it is important for you to be “bi-lingual.”

In truth, there are many languages to be spoken as we attempt to influence and lead others. Our choices depend on what we think will be most effective in getting our message across. Ideally, we will think about ethical factors as well. If you are persuading without principles, you are selling your soul along with your mental or physical wares.

The most effective influencers are well-versed in the many ways to communicate. They select the language best suited for their audience, knowing that passion, principles, and/or products cannot be sold if you cannot reach the audience. It follows, then, that the more of a polyglot you are, the more “languages” you can speak, the better equipped you will be to meet people on both their literal and figurative terms. The following exercise will help you develop your multi-lingual skills and thus, your ability to target your influence efforts more exactly.

 √        You do not have complete control over every facet of your life. No one does. There is someone or perhaps several someones you would like to influence to do certain things your way. It may be a supervisor or co-worker, a friend or family member, a subordinate, a neighbor or someone you know in a social or community setting. Write down exactly what you'd like to influence that person to do.

Now consider the outcome you would like to see. How do you wish the other person to feel after hearing your “pitch”? Check every adjective from the following list that would apply in this situation.

  • abundant
  • acclimated
  • bedazzled
  • blameless
  • cajoled
  • capable
  • challenged
  • determined
  • enabled
  • familiar
  • guided
  • informed
  • accepting
  • adamant
  • benefited
  • bonded
  • calm
  • championed
  • debriefed
  • empathic
  • energized
  • fortunate
  • identified
  • inspired
  • other  _______________________________

Look at those adjectives you've checked. Which is likely to be the most potent of all for the influence situation you've just described?  What emotion would be evoked?

Now, record what you would have to do and/or say to leave the other person feeling the emotion you've described as most potent of all.

 √        As you make preparations for proposing your idea, think about the various languages you could use to communicate your ideas. A partial list is presented here. Feel free to add other types of language to the list, given the vantage point of your particular circumstances. Then select the language that would probably prove to be most persuasive with the person you hope to influence.

  • the language of money
  • the language of things
  • the language of technology
  • the language of business
  • the language of teamwork
  • the language of sports
  • the language of politics
  • the language of global economy
  • the language of leadership
  • the language of quality
  • the language of innovation
  • the language of  ____________________________________________

What specific words do you associate with the language you checked? Which of those are likely to have a positive impact on the person you hope to influence?

____________________                           __________________

____________________                           __________________

____________________                           __________________

____________________                           __________________

Now that you’ve given some preliminary thought to the “language(s) you will speak in order to positively impact others, draft a few paragraphs that delineate and substantiate the proposal you will make.  As you do so keep in mind what leadership-meister John Maxwell has to say on the topic: “Leadership is influence. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

This guest post comes courtesy of Marlene Caroselli.

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