Words and the distinctions they create

Euan wrote about words and the distinctions that they silently enforce in a recent post.

It’s impossible to fault somebody up front for using the wrong words. Very often when I talk to a self-appointed “web 2.0” expert or some such person, they use a lot of words that drive me crazy. Bureaucratic types are even more painful. But they are just words afterall. I bet my words have the same effect on many people.
But, Words, after some time, form a language.

It’s when people speak a completely different language than you that it can get really difficult. Often, it is impossible to translate. Inside an organization, the distinction is often not between doers and thinkers, the truth is that there are those who get it, and those who don’t. There is the language of creativity and introspection, and there is the language of bureaucracy and self achievement.

I suspect most people won’t want to touch the topic, but how do we find those who are religiously opposed to a flatter world and how to we deal with them? How do we understand them? Do we play nice, and find lovely things for them to go off and do (the French and Canadian way?), or do we find a space in which they have the chance to “put up or shut up” as it were?

In different consulting projects, I have often thought about this, to the point of writing names down on paper. It all felt incredibly judgmental and awkward, but it also seemed like the “dirty work” that nobody was stepping up to do.

In many cases, those very people that you left alone, ignored, or even engaged methodically to bring them in… often they can come around, when you least suspect it, and give it their best effort to strike back at you.

In the end, it is probably not a matter of seeing these people fired, but in the subtleness of our approach in bringing in a new world, how do we encourage this change, how to we nurture them the best? Like managers who deserve and chance to move from control to influence, what is the opportunity for those who are culturally at odds with the new?