News, Events & Insights

Business News, Career Resources, IT, People

Workplace Nuance & Language

May 18, 2022

Nuance & Language in the Workplace

By Anthony Fiave-Boame

When it comes to language and nuance in the workplace, it is very easy to get lost within the puzzle pieces of trying to figure out what someone may have meant.

Have you ever been a part of a conversation that just seemed to go off-the-rails? When interviewing, has what you said and what you meant ever collided in a not-so-great way? If so, here are a few tips on how to avoid the all-too-real minefield of nuance and language within the workplace.

Use Professional Language & Tone

Imagine this: you walk into an interview and the first thing you say to the hiring manager is, “What’s up, dude?” A greeting like that is a bit too casual in that kind of setting. First impressions are everything and it all directs back to your language. The way you speak will show whether you are going to take the interview (and the position) seriously or not.

The first words that come out of your mouth will be what is remembered about you. You can walk into an interview well-dressed and with the best resume, but what you say is what truly matters. Your language and how you say it is important.

How you speak to the first person who greets you can set the tone for the rest of the interview or meeting. When you speak in a tone that is caring and honest, then you get that reciprocated back to you. On the other hand, an aggressive, “I’m better than you” tone shows that you do not care for who you speak to unless you feel they are on equal footing as you.

Be Confident, Not Cocky

Self-confidence is vital for success but should never be thought of or viewed as cockiness. You can always acknowledge your own skills and accomplishments, but you must have a subtle shell of humility around it.

Being the braggadocios one in the group is never well received and can potentially lead to you being resented by your peers. Your accolades are important, and you need to congratulate yourself, but do not let your self-glorification be your downfall.

When It Comes to Written Communication, Be Clear

Since humans have been writing, language has been getting misconstrued. The art of knowing what someone truly means without specific pauses, punctuations, or nuances is truly a gift. Emails, letters, and text messages can all be taken in an unintended way without the proper nuances and context given.

When typing out a message in any of those capacities, always reread and see if anything isn’t crystal clear. If so, add the nuances to make it less so because chances are, if something can be taken the wrong way, it will be. In the professional setting, this is vital.  A misunderstanding simply based on how an email is worded could result in workplace strife, reduction of productivity trying to figure out what was meant, and costly mistakes on important documents.

Taking a step back to review your written message will help you out and will save everyone a headache. If you aren’t sure how a message will be received, a simple phone call almost always clears things up.  In the digital age that we now live in, many people have different styles of communication and getting to know each person’s style of communication will always help with trying to understand what is meant.

The impressions you leave in the workplace matter. It can be the difference between coworkers who love working with you or coworkers who wouldn’t want to work with you. The way you communicate with people will leave a lasting impression so I hope that some of these tips can help you in your professional career.

Back to News & Events