Speaking the Same Language
Before leaving these cultural issues of honesty, integrity, and spin, let's look at another relevant issue critical to effective communication—using words whose meanings are understood throughout the organization. We know the importance of effective communication, in both formal and informal settings, to get our messages across as intended. But how many times have we been misunderstood, or have we not understood a thought someone else was trying to convey? We say one thing, and business colleagues, directors, lawyers, auditors, regulators, or others hear something very different. The consequences of bad communication range from simply extending a conversation to gain clarity to talking at cross-purposes resulting in bad business decisions. Yes, tone of voice and body language are important in sending the right message, but using the right words is often critical.
The governance, risk, and compliance realm is not exempt from lousy communication, and indeed seems to lend itself to misunderstandings—both inside a company and outside. This is about saying what we mean and meaning what we say. Exhibit 2.1 shows some examples of miscommunication. I apologize in advance for what might be perceived as nitpicking, and if you'd rather jump to the next chapter, please do so. But if you're interested in how precision in GRC wording is particularly relevant, you may want to take a look at the exhibit.