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How Mindful Language is Boosting HSBC's Bottom Line

Partnering with HSBC is a dream, since they share our love of language. We’ve been on a mission to spread that language love throughout their global organisation – so we were thrilled to get a chance to chat with fellow word nerd and Head of Mindfulness, Sean Tolram.

Sean’s mission? Create a more mindful workplace culture. Our Senior Account Manager, Chloe Davies sat down with Sean to understand what it means to practice mindful language at work.

They tackled topics like the role of neuroscience and how other businesses can use HSBC’s approach to save money and help their workers thrive.

Short on time? Here are three highlights.

Forge a friendly human connection

It sounds deceptively simple. But often what we think of as 'professional' language ends up sounding cold and robotic.  

Science tells us that if you invite readers in with nonthreatening language – that is, language that doesn't revolve around fear of consequences – they’ll stay engaged and receptive.  

Tips to try:

  • Avoid threatening language. Keep the tone supportive and collaborative, without fear. Instead of “You need to do X or [bad things] will happen,” try “Let’s make sure we do X.”
  • Write like you speak. Read it out loud. Does it sound natural and inviting? Remember that contractions are your friends (“can’t” is friendlier than “cannot”).
  • Use readability scores to keep your writing accessible to all readers (can link to ours).

Craft conscious communication for a global audience

Everything you write has at least two things: a target audience and a goal. So don't just sit down and write. Craft your messages with intention and compassion to send the signal that your colleagues are safe with you.  

Write with your audience in mind, whether it's one person or one hundred: what their lives are like, what they care about, and what kind of language they use when talking to each other.  

Tips to try:

  • Use simple language (do not leverage overembellished lexicon). The average reading level in the U.K. is about 9 years old, so say it simply if you want to be understood.
  • Skip the slang. Slang and regional expressions don't translate well for international readers and English language learners. The fastest way to lose a reader is to make them feel excluded.

Invite in with inclusive language

Create psychological safety with inclusive language. It'll keep your readers’ attention, and promote productivity and personal growth.  

Over time, it’ll also ease stress in the workplace, reduce staff turnover, and keep minds feeling engaged and active. Happier workers and better business outcomes.

Tips to try:

  • Get curious about the words you use: seemingly harmless phrases like "blacklist" can have nefarious origins. Stay up to date to avoid exclusionary terms.
  • Start from the top. Getting senior leadership engaged with adopting inclusive language and mindfulness techniques is crucial for lasting cultural change.

What next?

We have a handy download to make it easy to share the tips with friends and colleagues.

Curious about using mindful language in your organisation? Contact The Writer via [email protected] or Sean at HSBC via [email protected].

0 min read, posted in Diversity and Inclusion, by The Writer, on 3 Jun 2024