Global Communication is “Getting” Tricky

By Kelly Watkins, President of Expressive Concepts

English is a funny language, as in weird and annoying. Of course, it can also be funny, as in humorous. For example, why do we call a vegetable “eggplant” when there’s no egg in it? Or, why do we call a meat “hamburger” when there’s no ham in it? Even worse are the prepositions. A building can burn up as it burns down. A person fills in a form by filling it out.

English is complicated enough for native speakers. Imagine the difficulties when you’re doing business internationally. You may be talking with people who don’t speak English as their first language. Or you may be communicating through an interpreter or submitting documents to a translation service.

There are many techniques you can use to ensure that you communicate more clearly. Let me share one.

There’s one word you should remove from your vocabulary. The word is “get”. Why? Because there are too many definitions for the word. Here are some examples:

Get the…

  • phone = answer
  • newspaper = retrieve
  • dog = restrain
  • joke = understand
  • flu = catch
  • information = obtain
  • stain out = remove
  • upset = become
  • outta here = leave

If you want to ensure your message is conveyed clearly, get rid of “get”! Instead, choose a more descriptive word. Then, no one is confused.

Here’s a final note. There’s nothing wrong with using the word “get” in normal conversation – as long as everyone participating in the conversation speaks English as his/her native language.


Kelly Watkins is a Global Thought Leader – sharing expertise from all 7 continents to improve organizations’ effectiveness and their employees’ communication.