Register Your Complaints Here

July 9, 2015

We'll hop right to it:  This posting is about communication registers.  This, you say?



Well, it's a register, but I don't see what it's got to do with communication, unless you're counting it telling you how much your wallet is about to be robbed of for that shopping spree at Neiman Marcus.


A register as it relates to communication simply is a certain type of style and manner of language that you use for a specific purpose.  Don't make sense?  Yeah, it didn't to us, either, until we thought about it for a while.  So'here's a real-life example of registers in all their glory:


Mom:  Micah, you finished your homework, right?


Micah:  Why, mother, it goes without saying that my school duties have been completely and thoroughly finished.  Why do you ask such a question?


Mom:  . . .


Boom!  Language registers, peeps!  Still no get it?  ::sigh::  Let's try this a different way:


Crip:  Yo, foolz, wassup wi dit?  Chu got goin' own ova here?  You cool, ma?


Foolz:  Oh, I am just going over my taxes, trying to determine which deductions I can take without being put underneath the jail for tax fraud and evasion?


Crip:  Ya, ya heard.  Boyz gotta do what a boyz gotta do.  Yo, boo, you need help, just peep me on da phone.  I'll buss a cap in the IRS fo shizzle, my nizzle.


Foolz:  No, but thank you for the assistance.  I am highly confident that I can handle this affair myself.  But if I should need you, I won't hesitate to call you.


You see the distinction now?  There's something off about how each person in each example is responding to the other.  In the first, you have a mother talking to her son.  Usually, the discussions are casual.  But the son responds like he's a complete tool with 0 friends and the love of every teach this side of Ireland because he's a frickin' snitch.


In the second example, you have a straight-up gang memeber speeking in what I believe is English, offering some type of assistance--I think.  The respondent answers as if he's in a boardroom talking to an operations executive. 


The registers are unbalanced.  The problem with unbalanced registers?  This:


Confusion central.


You really need to be mindful here.  Talking to your spouse and your supervisor differently is probably a good thing if you want to avoid sleeping on the couch for the evening or keep your job, respectively.


But here's the interesting thing about communication registers:  They are a window into the thinking and needs of the other party.  Why should you give an eff about someone else's needs?  Well, that's kind of the goal of communication:  demonstrating that you understand another person, even if you don't agree with him/her.


Then there's the case of purposely speaking outside an expected register, which is something that has made John Legere, head honcho of T-Mobile, kind of popular these days.  This is a fellow known to be brash, to use all types of language on social media, and--dare we say it--use non-business-speak when he's bashes his competitors.  Essentially, he's speaking in a way that CEOs are not supposed to speak.  He's speaking like the dude down the street calling out another dude for hitting on his girl.  Very common, everday language.  And it works.  He's made a splash in the wireless industry and has help boost the reputation of his company, though not far enough, in our opinion.


You're allowed to break the rules.  In fact, sometimes you need to break them.


So what's the moral of the story?  Choose your words wisely, meaning know what register to speak in at all times.  Making a mistake can make you look like a complete tool.  Just ask Kelsey Grammer.


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