#41 Using the Right Language with Susana Serrano-Davey

Susana Serrano-Davey joins Kevin Appleby on the GrowCFO show to discuss how the right language makes a big difference to CFO communications

Great communication is a vital part of the CFO’s brief. Using the right language is often the difference between good and great communication. On this episode of the GrowCFO Show Kevin Appleby discusses the power of language with Susana Serrano-Davey. Susana tells us about the many ways the right language can make a difference. The right language is vital to communicate to a team or individual effectively. 

Susana expands on the ways we can adapt our language and how this adaptation can lead to better results. 

About Susana

Susana is a GrowCFO mentor. She is also an executive director with international experience in commercial finance, business transformation, commercial management, FP&A, financial control and audit.

Be mindful to use the right language 

 Susana discusses how we need to be aware of our environment to give the most effective message. This means we need to use the right language for that situation. 

When we meet different people our language has to adapt so we can communicate with them in the right way so our message comes across the way we intend it to. Just a few words can make a large difference on how the sentence is received. 

Right language is needed so you don’t reflect our emotions in what you are saying. Using a word like ‘always’ can add layers of frustration and alter how the sentence is received. 

Why do we need to change our language to the right language?

Susana dives into how things such as  culture can have an impact on the way we communicate, for example, differing nationalities can also lead to different attitudes but also accents can make us sound more or less aggressive. 

This means we have to identify factors on what we ourselves need to work on to be able to communicate most effectively. This may mean adapting words that we say but also how we say it. 

Talking from the other person’s perspective

You will hear Susana explain how being aware of how other people perceive you is vital for good communication. The way people perceive you will determine how they respond to what you are telling them. Specific words will change the impression your sentence leaves, whether it shows you are being aggressive or feeling frustrated.

It is also important to understand that the impression you leave does not only come from what you say but also how you say it as this creates an atmosphere. Susana discusses how being impatient can give an atmosphere that will not lead to the person you are speaking to work at their best. This is why you need to understand the impression you give and use the right language to get people to work with you.

How do cultural differences affect right language?

Susana illustrates how the right language can mean different things in different countries and cultures. She talks about the difference in attitudes to giving your boss feedback in Spain. This is where it is considered less acceptable to challenge your superiors.

She tells the story of returning to her native Spain after working in the UK and finding it odd that her direct reports were so reluctant to give their opinions.

Why do you need the right language to give feedback?

You need to see how context can affect the feedback you give. You need to see how the negative can be seen in a different perspective like how, if it was resolved, it would lead to more opportunities. 

Going further into this, Susana explains how this can vary from giving feedback to an individual as opposed to a group setting, where you need to be more careful as there is more room for misunderstanding due to a less tailored message.

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