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Many employees believe their chances of getting promoted would increase by sounding more professional and talking like a manager. This belief likely has some validity. A 2008 study by the U.K. Department of Work and Pensions found that ethnic minorities--particularly those born abroad--were penalized in interviews because of their failure to "talk like a manager," or display the "management persona." This management persona and associated speak was identified as a blend of business and analytical talk spanning three distinct themes of discourse: personal, professional and organizational.
Approach a successful current manager to act as a mentor. The manager does not have to mentor you specifically on talking like a manager. Just spending time with her will increase your comfort with management speak. A 2008 survey conducted by the U.K. Department of Work and Pensions found that individuals who had the opportunity for exposure to managers were more conversant in management speak and more likely to perform well in a promotional interview because of it.
Learn specific organizational concepts, acronyms and terminology. Managers are expected to be knowledgeable about the business, and failure to use the correct terminology--or in the right context--can make you sound inexperienced and juvenile.
Become comfortable with standard business speak, also known as jargon. Twenty percent of British workers felt that increasing their knowledge of jargon would help them get promoted, according to "The Telegraph" in a 2008 article titled "'Thinking Outside the Box' is Most Despised Business Jargon." However, be careful not to overuse cliched phrases, as this can become irritating to the listener.
Avoid colloquialisms and slang. Tape yourself talking and identify the informal words and phrases you use frequently, such as "gonna," "like" and "wanna." Try to reduce excessive use of these filler words and formalize your speech.
Prepare before giving any public speeches. Rehearse what you will say and the wording used, and practice different ways to deliver the message before giving the speech in public.
Ask a trusted friend or colleague for her observations on the way you currently speak, and take her suggestions on ways to sound more professional.
Don't curse in the workplace, even if company managers are doing so, because this is a surefire way to sound unprofessional.
- "Speak like a CEO: Secrets for Commanding Attention and Getting Results"; Suzanne Bates; 2005
- "The Telegraph"; Thinking Outside the Box' is Most Despised Business Jargon; Aislinn Simpson; November 2008
- Investors in People; UK Employees Call for Jargon Amnesty; June 2006
For more than a decade, Tia Benjamin has been writing organizational policies, procedures and management training programs. A C-level executive, she has more than 15 years experience in human resources and management. Benjamin obtained a Bachelor of Science in social psychology from the University of Kent, England, as well as a Master of Business Administration from San Diego State University.