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Is ‘language’​, the very thing that makes us human, starting to evolve?

Language, as defined by the Cambridge dictionary is a system of communication by speaking, writing, or making signs in a way that can be understood, or any of the different systems of communication used in particular regions.

There are approximately 6500 languages in the world, 2000 of which are spoken by fewer than a 1000 people. English being the most popular spoken language in the world, closely followed by Mandarin and Hindi.

Body language is how we send and receive those subtle cues, whether it be facial expressions, body proxemics or how we move our body in space, and ornaments such as how we interact with clothing, jewellery or our hair.

We are constantly going between ‘decoding’ which is how you interpret hidden emotions and non-verbal cues to ‘encoding’ which is our ability to send cues, that first impression you give and how you make people feel.

I believe it was Maya Angelou who said;

‘People will forget what you said,

People will forget what you did but,

People will never forget how you made them feel’.

That can also be said for the environments we spend our time in. We don’t judge an experience only by how we deal with it, but also how others experience the product or environment. We start to build a story in our minds based on the body language we see others expressing.

Language is ultimately what makes us human but the very definition of language may be starting to evolve as we start interacting more with computers and technology. The way we communicate ideas and thoughts, the way we build relationships and community and the way we drive change in the workplace and far beyond the workplace.

I can already see the language around health and safety, wellbeing and ergonomics changing. It is less so about compliance and legislation and becoming more human. Rather than forcing people to engage with these topics because it may be a tick box exercise for the business, I see language becoming softer, more transparent, more interpersonal.

When conversations are more open, transparent and honest, the change you are trying to achieve becomes much more achievable and sustainable. This is also very much aligned with the physical space; how we find a space, how we navigate the space and how we read the space, the atmosphere, and the energy we perceive. We need to create a narrative and use people’s language and stories as data so that we can envision and create a better future.

I’m curious to know your thoughts…

Has the way you use language started to change? If so, in what way?

Does technology contribute and add value to the way you communicate or does it hinder it?

Does your workplace design speak a certain language? Are you able to navigate the workplace with ease and dignity? Or is there a sensory overload?

#TheTravellingErgonomist #TTEThoughts

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