Language: dividing or uniting?

Language is a powerful tool. When people speak a common language they feel part of a shared experience.  Think about the way you order a soft drink. In the South it’s called a “Coke”, in New England you hear “Pop” or “Soda” . Out here, folks  just go for a “non fat espresso latte ” instead.  But when someone steps up to the counter to place an order you can generally tell where they are from. By having knowledge of the vernacular, you are united with others who use the same language. When you don’t have the right words, you feel like an outsider; too intimidated to ask questions.

When it comes to financial information, we accountants  sometimes use our own special language to separate people from the information we share. It’s not intentional, it just happens when you spend all of your time immersed in a technical subject. (Ok, for some people it is intentional and for some,  intimidating others is the best part of their job.) Ever had an interesting dialogue about amortization with an accountant?

As an instructor at WISE academy, I periodically teach an 8 hour financial class to winery employees. The goal of the class is to remove the mystery from financial information by giving our students a new vocabulary. Believe it or not, at the end of the 8 hours, they use their new financial vocabulary to analyze financial statements. You would think we had a room full of accountants (without the lead pencils or 10 key).

Once you remove the language barrier, it is easier for people to ask questions and to communicate with everyone on their team.

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