Respectful Language

How Dialogue Supports Moral Development of Leaders and Respectful Culture


  • Laura M. Chapman MA

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    • Laura M. Chapman, MA, is an educational consultant, author, and facilitator in equality and diversity, with great experience in the development of inclusive practice in education, leadership and management, and learning. She may be reached at


This article outlines key ideas from a small-scale piece of research undertaken as a study for a dissertation into language use in learning organizations. The inquiry focuses on how language use may be used in reflection when understood as ethical leadership action. Anecdotal evidence suggested that an eye on the bottom line and a compliance approach imposed by legislation during a period of recession had a negative effect on dialogue, with exchanges being less courteous and less generous during daily dealings. The aim of this study was to find out what professionals working in the field of learning and development understand the term respectful language to mean. The study explored theories based on reflection and drawn on experience. It modeled ethical practice by way of presenting the ideas of a diverse community of practice. The findings are presented as an interpretation based on rich narratives, which practitioners may find useful to aid their dialogue in a tough economic climate.