The Power of Language and Communication in Recognition

November 10, 2015
| ByMadison

How often have you approached someone and adjusted your language depending upon your perception of his or her hierarchical position in a store, restaurant or an organization? Did the conversation give you the result you expected or wanted?

We do this often, sometimes without even realizing the changes we’ve made, either to exert our authority, to accomplish a task, or because of how we feel in that person’s presence. Whatever the reason, language and how we communicate impact how the conversation plays out and the outcomes achieved.

The power of language can be uniquely leveraged as you map out your recognition strategy. For example, consider the empowering, motivating words you choose when announcing a new rewards & recognition program or the different terms you use when providing targeted training to different audiences such as for stakeholders, managers and participants. Those are just two examples of how we leverage the power of language and communication in recognition.

Employees want to feel that their needs are understood. The language, medium and frequency used to communicate impact how employees receive the message and what they do with the information. How you design the awareness campaign of you recognition program is an integral part of the process; an essential link between the development and adoption of your program.

Style influences ongoing impact

When people communicate in a specific way, that style becomes expected in the communications that follow. The person or people being communicated to learn the style and adjust their response to align with the message giver’s tone and approach. This phenomenon is termed transactional analysis. If the recognition is not appropriate to the needs of the audience, the relationship could become toxic, making future recognition less impactful and learning less likely to stick.

Adjust styles to influence

Everyone is unique and so different styles work for different people. By using a range of mediums, adjusting the frequency of communication depending upon importance and topic, and deciding on an informal or formal approach, your workforce is more likely to receive your message in an accepting manner and act on it in a positive way. This means that they are more likely to either repeat the behavior that gained them recognition or learn new behaviors and skills that will result in the recognition they desire.

Language has power

Consider the blogs you read or the newspaper articles that engage you. Consider the productive conversations you’ve had with managers, peers or even friends and loved ones. They are either two-sided conversations where both parties listen to the other and they are respectful of each other’s feelings, wants, and needs or they are well structured, easy to read and thought-provoking articles that make you want to act. Language has the power to influence and engage employees in every recognition interaction.

Review your impact

Rather than assume your style is working, ask employees how it is working for them. Aim not to send a message and assume it’s been well received; make communication both top down and bottom up by listening to employees, asking for feedback and adjusting your style accordingly.

Final thoughts

The way we communicate with others has a tremendous impact on how the message is received and, therefore, how effective and successful your recognition program will be. Taking a magnifying glass to the styles you use and the approach you take could help you to recognize and motivate your employees more powerfully than ever before.

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