Penny Hunt and Change Chemistry logo imageSomeone called ‘ahoy’ to his coffee drinking friend as he came into the café today.

Fantastic beard (that Victorian explorer look has really taken hold, hasn’t it?), tweedy togs and fab trainers all signalled someone hipper than a hip thing.

Is ‘ahoy’ coming back, I wonder?

It’s an accident that we don’t all say this to each other all the time. Alexander Graham Bell’s favoured telephone greeting was’ ahoy-hoy’. While you may feel a giggle coming on, ‘ahoy’ wasn’t always just nautical.

image01But Edison preferred ‘hello’ and here we are.
(Or not. Is ‘Hi’ winning at the moment?)

The ahoy thing has wheedled its way into my head as being really rather significant.  If you can tear yourself away from the nautical imagery, what does ‘Ahoy’ feel like? To me it sounds confident, and makes me want to sit up and take notice. It feels like a word that should be shouted. Direct, but distant.

I ran a focus group this week in a certain company exploring the experience of working together and how to make things better.
There was lots of discussion about the differences between men and women – in how they work and how they communicate. It all felt pretty clear that the male mode was directness, the female mode was suggestion and circumlocution.

image00But the more we talked, the more this seemed like utter, unquestioned, rubbish in the workplace: in this particular workplace.
There are many meetings in this company. There are even de facto gatekeepers who police who knows about which meetings, and who attends. The CEO and his team is lofty and distant. Email circulation lists routinely have 20+ names on them. The management is very male. Yet the group felt distanced from discussion, from debate, from conversation; from what was really going on and being decided. A male culture existed, yet a communication behaviour that was not direct at all had grown up. The supposed male and female modes were completely mixed up.

And everyone in the group craved contact and involvement.

So what did the group conclude?

To ignore old fashioned male/female labels; to be more direct, and to make proper contact when they returned to work with their teams.

And my thought for the week?

Say ‘Hello’ not ‘Ahoy’.

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