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Unpacking pattern language

Why should we care about shared language?

I’m never surprised to find that language in an organization is used quite differently from individual to individual and group to group. With so many unique cultures, perspectives and contexts it’s natural for some people to use the same word and mean different things, or have different words to describe the same thing. There can even be personal or cultural differences on the importance of language precision: how much grammar matters, how rigidly we hold onto definitions, how much we desire to name things, and so on.

An underlying principle in working together though is sharing language, understanding one another. Without a shared language we miscommunicate with one another, create unrealistic expectations, waste time and money, become frustrated, and sometimes even fail terrifically. We see this in our relationships, too. It hurts when we feel unheard or misunderstood, and that hurt can erode trust over time.

I believe the opposite is also true — through shared language and meaningful relationships we can repair trust and boost our collective hope for the future. With teams this can also manifest as more effective work and a better work life overall.

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