Mind your mouth: Why it’s time to rethink Language in the workplace

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A show of hands if you’ve ever used the words “crushing it” or “killing it” to describe your company’s performance.

If you answered yes, you’re not alone. More frequently, these phrases are being used as an inherent part of global corporate culture. However, what if instead of motivating and encouraging your team, you’re unconsciously damaging a supportive and inclusive environment?

Let’s look into this.

In a tweet early this month, Australian start-up guru and well-known advocate for diversity and equality Annie Parker declared she would only “build, grow and elevate” this year.



What followed was overwhelming support from #girlbosses all across Australia. Annie Parker was right. The words “crushed” and “killed” gave off these aggression-fuelled, male-centric vibes that served no real purpose to a company’s growth.

Speaking to StartupSmart, Annie said words matter – no if’s or but’s.

“Whether you like it or not, potential employees, customers or investors will make judgements about you or your business based on how the language you use makes them feel,” she said. 

Moving forward

As public relations professionals, we pride ourselves on the meticulous attention we pay to details, facts and words in the copy we write, but have we forgotten the power of language?

Inclusive language enables everyone in your organisation to feel valued and respected. It replaces those “kills” with “elevates”, all of which increase overall performance.

And this inclusivity starts from the top-down. Leaders can drive the actions and expectations of their teams.

Harvard Business Review columnist Kevin Allen said leaders who use simple and highly motivating prescriptive words set the right cultural permission for their organisations.

So maybe it’s time to reconsider language – after all, words can speak louder than actions.

This story was inspired by Bro-centric language: Why it’s time to stop saying we’re ‘crushing’ and ‘killing’ it. Read it here.

Words by Brittany Butler

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