Samantha Beaver, the CEO and founder of Memra Language Services, believes language is the best technology we have, and if we view it as such, we might know how to better solve communication problems.
Samantha spoke at the March 7 Waunakee Rotary meeting. She became interested in linguistics after her family moved to Germany  for a time when she was a child.
The family all learned German and became fluent, but after they moved back, the level that they retained it differed among them.
In college, she studied German and Spanish and became a teacher for a while. She then attended UW-Madison and earned a master’s degree in sociolinguistics. She considered earning a PhD but then believed that her knowledge of applied sociolinguistics could be useful to the community.
While language is innate, effortless and universal, it is also complex and full of convoluted functions.
It is the primary technology people use to get jobs done. But in the business community, 96 percent of business executives cite ineffective communication as a reason for failure.
Among employees, 76 percent say lack of communication has an effect on morale. It may seem the problem is nebulous until you apply a new framework.
By viewing language as a technology, lack of communication can be viewed as refusing to use a company tool, she said.
For business executives, if communication were a piece of technology, like a copier, it would fixed right away, Samantha said.
Samantha helps companies with data analyses of different written communication, such as exit surveys. She also helps design surveys.
Our culture also influences our style of communication. Samantha demonstrated this with an example of a conversation between coworkers wherein the woman uses indirect language and is misunderstood by her male coworker.
Samantha noted that women have been socialized to use an indirect communication style, but in the workplace, a more direct style seems more appropriate.
Memra also helps with corporate trainings, tech solutions and offers apps to help with training.
Other News:
–Jim Kattner and Tom Kennedy gave their 90 seconds of fame. Jim lives in Waunakee with his wife and their dogs and works at Nord Gear, which is expanding again. He grew up in the Village of Greendale, in the Milwaukee area, and has seven brothers and sisters.
Tom used his time to let the club know he’s organizing a large professional meeting in Madison July 7-11 that will draw about 900 students from 80 countries. He may ask club members for a little help with this.
–Linda Olson said Jenny, the club’s exchange student, is staying with her over spring break. If you’re doing something fun and would like to invite Jenny along, let Linda know.
Guests: Samantha Beaver, guest of the club.
Visiting Rotarians: None.
Birthdays: March 15, Rich Murphy; March 17, Ellen Schaaf.
Anniversaries: March 19, Lisa and John Humenik.
Greeters: March 14, Bob Klostermann and Ryan Knight; March 21, Neil Kruschek and Nancy Thomas-Kuehn; March 28, Alan Langeteig and Drew Lawrence.