The Language of We

Alaka‘i Managers learn to Speak with Aloha. They choose their words carefully and deliberately, knowing those words can be the most effective managing tool they have.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 9 in Managing with Aloha on the value of KĀKOU:

The Language of We

Kākou is the language of “we.” And the language of we stimulates ownership and personal responsibility in the all-encompassing initiatives of a company. If you hear your employees talk about “our company” versus “the company” you know you’re on the right track. They feel they have a stake in what you do, and they take actions they believe are important and worthwhile. They are your partners, and these words of inclusiveness imply that they feel their voices and opinions are considered carefully in the decisions you make. The language of we is one of collaboration and partnership, and it also implies agreement and support of your vision. These are the words, the empowering force, and the strength of mind of Kākou. All of us. Kākou serves to give an affirmative voice to the unity you were able to achieve in your efforts with Lōkahi (Chapter 8).

I believe that every manager in needs to respect the needs of their culture, and figure out how to use the word Kākou in their own language, in the sentences they say to their staff every day. For the beauty of Kākou is that it includes the speaker in whatever is being said, and the message is explicitly clear that you are in it —whatever it is —with them. There is no me versus you, no us versus them, it’s all we and us. You may be the boss, but you are one of them. In a company you are all employees, you are all business partners, you are all on a mission. Your staff needs to hear this from you, and they can never hear it enough.

Let language lead to action

This is what happens when you incorporate something into your language, into the words that people hear you speak often: You have to walk the talk to keep your credibility and your integrity. The surest way to change your own behavior for the better is to speak the words that will force you to make it so. And the brave soul who will say to his or her staff with humility and sincerity, “I need you to help me with this,” often becomes their champion.

“A different language is a different vision of life.”

– Federico Fellini –


Language, vocabulary, and conversation combine as our primary tools in business communications, just as they do in our lives: What we speak is fifty times more important than what we read or write. The need for CLEAR, intentional, reliable and responsive communication is critical in thriving businesses — and in learning cultures, for we learn an extraordinary amount from other people. Drive communication of the right cultural messages, and you drive mission momentum and worthwhile energies. Communication will factor into every single value in some way as its primary enabler. The Managing with Aloha language of intention is inclusive, and is therefore defined as the “Language of We” with the value of KĀKOU as guiding light.

Read more: The 9 Key Concepts of Managing with Aloha

About Rosa Say

Rosa is the author of Managing with Aloha. She’s a writer and photo-taker, a workplace culture coach, and a zealous advocate of managers everywhere. She’s a wife and mom, sister and daughter, manager, leader and worker bee, living the best life she can, just like you. Learn more about Rosa at


  1. Rosa Say says:

    Russ Rymer has written an essay for National Geographic Magazine that can give you much to think about in regard to just how important language is to us:
    Vanishing Languages begins with this:

    One language dies every 14 days. By the next century nearly half of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken on Earth will likely disappear, as communities abandon native tongues in favor of English, Mandarin, or Spanish. What is lost when a language goes silent?

    I highly recommend reading the whole thing. Rymer shares stories which illustrate how “each language has boxed up within it some irreplaceable beneficial knowledge.”

    Quotable bits that tugged at me:

    “A last speaker with no one to talk to exists in unspeakable solitude.”

    “Speaking Aka — or any language — means immersing oneself in its character and concepts. “I’m seeing the world through the looking glass of this language,” said Father Vijay D’Souza, who was running the Jesuit school in Palizi at the time of my visit… D’Souza is from southern India, and his native language is Konkani. When he came to Palizi in 1999 and began speaking Aka, the language transformed him. “It alters your thinking, your worldview,” he told me one day in his headmaster’s office, as children raced to classes through the corridor outside.”

    On values spoken:
    “Much of public life in Palizi is regulated through the repetition of mythological stories used as forceful fables to prescribe behavior… Such stories were traditionally told by the elders in a highly formal version of Aka that the young did not yet understand and according to certain rules, among them this: Once an elder begins telling a story, he cannot stop until the story is finished. As with linguistic literacy, disruption is disaster.”

    “My father was a priest,” Nimasow said, “and his father was a priest.” And now? I asked. Was he next in line? Nimasow stared at the talismans and shook his head. He had the kit, but he didn’t know the chants; his father had died before passing them on. Without the words, there was no way to bring the artifacts’ power to life.

    “Language shapes human experience—our very cognition—as it goes about classifying the world to make sense of the circumstances at hand. Those classifications may be broad—Aka divides the animal kingdom into animals that are eaten and those that are not—or exceedingly fine-tuned. The Todzhu reindeer herders of southern Siberia have an elaborate vocabulary for reindeer; an iyi düktüg myiys, for example, is a castrated former stud in its fourth year… If Aka, or any language, is supplanted by a new one that’s bigger and more universally useful, its death shakes the foundations of the tribe. “Aka is our identity,” a villager told me one day as we walked from Palizi down the path that wound past the rice fields to the forests by the river. “Without it, we are the general public.”

    The ongoing collapse of the world’s biodiversity is more than just an apt metaphor for the crisis of language extinction. The disappearance of a language deprives us of knowledge no less valuable than some future miracle drug that may be lost when a species goes extinct. Small languages, more than large ones, provide keys to unlock the secrets of nature, because their speakers tend to live in proximity to the animals and plants around them, and their talk reflects the distinctions they observe. When small communities abandon their languages and switch to English or Spanish, there is a massive disruption in the transfer of traditional knowledge across generations—about medicinal plants, food cultivation, irrigation techniques, navigation systems, seasonal calendars.”

    “He told me of hant iiha cöhacomxoj, those who have been told about Earth’s possessions, all ancient things. “To be told” entails an injunction: Pass it on. Thanks to that, we have all become inheritors of the knowledge enshrined within Cmiique Iitom. Folk sayings and often even single words encase centuries of close observation of species that visiting scientists have only begun to study in recent decades.”

    “The cataloging of vocabulary and pronunciation and syntax that field linguists do in remote outposts helps keep a language alive. But saving a language is not something linguists can accomplish, because salvation must come from within.”

    On a native elder’s death:
    “Their mortality is a reminder of the mortality of their cultures, an intimation that with each speaker’s death another vital artery has been severed. Against that—against the possibility that their language could slip away without alarm or notice—stands a proud perseverance, a reverence for the old, an awareness that in important ways a key to our future lies behind us. That, and an insistence that the tongues least spoken still have much to say.”


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  2. […] so you can banish them once and for all, saying goodbye to them forevermore. Banish them, and your Language of We will blossom. You’ll be saying hello to much healthier work, and a much happier you. You’ll […]

  3. […] One thing that has not changed, is that Hualalai reveals itself as a place of privilege shared in the thinnest slivers. Some were amazed at our expectations of homeowners there, but as an ex-insider, I now know we didn’t go far enough. We can raise the bar so much higher! If I were with the Powers that Be today, I’d get the Parable of the Faithful Servant into all orientation packets, for residents and staff alike, refusing to be content until it truly became our Language of We. […]

  4. […] to step through, so you can take off running. If you are an Alaka‘i Manager, get this vocabulary, and this chain reaction into your workplace culture as the best contribution you can […]

  5. […] put the competitive pressure aside, or in a place where it can better reside within them. Their “Language of We” isn’t a language of competitive success as much as one of shared effort in the work they have […]

  6. […] large part of my coaching to managers when I facilitated these Shift Sessions, as we called them, was that we had to leave the room KĀKOU, “all in” and ready to proceed together in our […]

  7. […] Other numbers we have claimed in our MWA Language of Intention: […]

  8. […] are not always what they seem. And why “they” instead of “we?” Is there really an “enough” which can contain true […]

  9. […] for the values which are at the root of whatever is being shared with you, and respond with the Language of We. Walk away from conversations making a small agreement that honors that value (and thus, that […]

  10. […] became part of our Language of We. He would ask me to let him “get my fish back in the water” whenever he felt his team could […]

  11. […] In our Managing with Aloha Language of Intention they can. It’s core to our KĀKOU value […]

  12. […] by Bella Bathurst for Aeon Magazine, and want to share it with you for our Managing with Aloha and Language of Intention […]

  13. […] and make things happen without procrastinating about them ‘someday-maybe.’ We speak the Language of Intention of our chosen verb during the month more than we’d otherwise do, and we use value-verbing to help […]

  14. Got Passion? says:

    […] Kākou to “share it with others whenever the possibility arises” in our Language of We, doing so Ho‘ohanohano to “gain confidence” in a way that feels good and right for […]