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Are You Fed Up with Chicken and Duck Talk?

Chicken and Duck Talk. The Chinese idiom describes a kind of communication breakdown.

At work, we often speak in acronyms or technical phrases that we are familiar with. However, we overlook the fact that not everyone shares the same understanding.

I recalled a dialogue with an executive who kept saying the same abbreviation. I had to ask for the full form of the abbreviation. She was shocked when I asked her the question. It is a term commonly used in her organisation. She expected me to know it. As our dialogue continued, a few more acronyms were used that I wished I would have known.

Communication flows better between two parties if we remember a few tips:

💡Be an expert who can speak in layman language to help others understand.

💡Use less jargons and technical terms.

💡Remove assumption that acronyms are universal. Many of them are not.

💡Use simple language especially when you work with multi-cultural teams. Consider your audience and tailor your message to their level of understanding.

💡Body language speaks louder than words.

💡When your audience asks questions to clarify, be respectful to explain. Talk to your audience at the same level of status.

I would invite you to observe your language used at the next dialogue. Share what you learn to make your dialogue more effective in the comment box below.


Norris Wong is an independent Human Resources Consultant who supports employers & Human Resources leaders to solve people issues with a people centric approach. If you would like to get support on your people issues, drop me an email to start a conversation.


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