Linguistic Influence

Newsletter No. 20 – May 24th, 20244
Written by a human. 

If you’re familiar with my Newsletters, you know I try to avoid the academic and focus on the practical.

That said, the academic term, linguistic influence, is one that has considerable practical implications for enterprising families.

Linguistic influence refers to the ability to affect others’ thoughts, feelings, and actions through language.

This influence can stem from various factors, including tone, choice of words, body language, and context. Some individuals possess stronger linguistic influence due to their charisma, expertise, or authoritative position.

If you’re in a family enterprise, whether that’s a family business or a family office, odds are someone in your family has linguistic influence that can (and often will) impact how your family approaches transitioning a business or portfolio from one generation to the next.

If you have the linguistic authority, it is critical you harness its power to achieve alignment and collaboration as you design the future of your family enterprise. To do so, you must develop self-awareness.

Developing self-awareness requires years’ worth of work, however, I wanted to highlight a few strategies to consider as you engage with your family:

  • Reflect on Intentions: Before speaking, consider the purpose of your communication. Are you aiming to inform, inspire, persuade, or empathize?
  • Practice Active Listening: Pay close attention to others’ responses. Listening actively helps you gauge the impact of your words so you can adjust your approach accordingly.
  • Seek Feedback: Ask for feedback from family members about your communication style and its effects. Use this feedback to improve.
  • Observe Reactions: Notice how people react to your words. Are they engaged, confused, or defensive?
  • Develop Emotional Intelligence: Cultivate empathy and emotional awareness to better understand and respond to others’ needs and feelings.
  • Choose Words Wisely: Be mindful of your word choices. Aim to use clear, positive, and respectful language.

I recognize that in practice these are not simple strategies as everyone has an agenda and is looking to achieve that agenda.

However, if your ultimate goal is to create a cohesive family capable of responsibly managing your family’s assets, self-awareness is critical; it can be the difference between a fractured family with diminishing wealth and a tightly-knit clan focused on building a multi-generational legacy. By fostering self-awareness, you can ensure your family will work together towards a future you can all be proud of.

– Josh Gentine

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