“Could one speak of a statement if a voice had not articulated it, if a surface did not bear its signs, if it had not become embodied in a sense-perceptible element, and if it had not left some trace—if only for an instant—in someone’s memory or some space?”
From Michel Foucault’s The Archeology of Knowledge
The above citation from Foucault is a heavy one. What does that mean? What is a sense-perceptible element?
In the above passage, Foucault begins to introduce the idea of language and discourse as a means of role definition, status and, ultimately, knowledge mastery. He opines that what we say is reflective of who we are and what we do.
If we consider the myriad professions in medicine, it is easy to identify a person in the discipline based upon what he or she wears. However, what separates a nurse from a surgeon? Theoretically, both could wear the same color scrubs and carry the same tools, yet the roles these two professionals fulfill are drastically different. If you were in an elevator with a nurse and a surgeon, both wearing the same color scrubs, how could you distinguish one from the other?
The concept of language as a role construct is profound. By speaking the language of your profession, you reinforce your command of your skill sets and knowledge base, thereby proving that you are fulfilling a role for which you are well qualified.
But it’s not that simple. Part of maintaining your native tongue requires continual education beyond your academic credentials. You must commit to being a lifelong learner—one who remains attuned to current industry trends. You must be able to speak to these trends as new knowledge becomes part of the discipline and before this knowledge permeates into mainstream culture.
- Don’t stop reading. If you stop reading once you’ve earned your academic credential, you are setting yourself up for bad habits going forward.
- Be wary of content from the Internet. Often, Internet sources are sketchy, half-truths that offer opinions that might hurt your credibility if repeated. Speak the language of the prominent writers and industry experts.
- Befriend LinkedIn. Join groups related to your area of expertise and share ideas with your peers. LinkedIn is a great tool for gaining exposure and learning from other industry leaders.
Bryan University teaches both the practical skills and the professional discourse so you can confidently reflect who you are.
View the rest of the 52 Tips in 52 Weeks series here!