This Easter I was skiing in Austria with my wife and youngest son. It was odd to see a sign saying +14 degrees Celsius when entering a lift gate, but it was still possible to ski. Well, somewhat at least. And only until noon. :)

Yet something I remember even more happened a minute later in the same lift queue. The three of us were lined up next to each other to go in the same lift when a small eight-year-old boy leaves his skiing school group and says to his teacher in English that he wants to go with us. We find it a bit strange and try to gently suggest that he stays with his group, but he's very persistent. Anyway, as we are all going to the same destination it shouldn't be a problem.

As the lift moves away, he starts talking. A lot! And in Swedish. He tells us that he lives in Belgium, but that he's from Sweden. He's fluent in English, German and French. His family has a holiday home on Gotland (Sweden's largest island). And he tells us a lot more. :)

The main reason I remember this small event was that it brought something else to mind. He didn't know us. He had never seen us before. He only heard us in the lift queue quietly speaking Swedish for maybe fifteen seconds. That was all, and he immediately identified with us and wanted to be with us.

What an amazingly powerful gift (tool) it is to share a language, especially in the context of lots of other languages, such as Swedish in Austria. In no time at all, it creates understanding and togetherness. Mind blowing!

As a developer this can be used to a huge advantage if you really want to connect with your domain experts. Make an effort to speak their domain language, and you will stand out next to most other developers.

The opposite is also true. Just try speaking developer language with a domain expert, using words like higher order function, repository and bitwise operation. It only takes a second for them to zoom out, become bored and leave, not just mentally but also physically! If you stick to the domain language, they will love to hang out with you!

As with any tool, the language can be used both to your advantage and disadvantage. Used well, it's a very powerful tool! Used poorly, it's also a powerful repellent!