Have you ever started a new job in a new industry and got completely overwhelmed by the business buzzwords or business jargon being used and you had no idea what they were talking about? Believe me, you are not alone in this. When I started in my first management role, my last role was that of a small time cleaning contract business owner. Everyone around me was using management jargon as well as all the buzzwords that comes with the telecommunications industry. I was so lost, confused and frustrated until I got the hang of it and knew what everyone was on about. However, after awhile, it all becomes a verbal sludge of terms and basically meaningless phrases all designed to keep everyone in line. It’s time to ease up.
A recent article I read suggests that even various government departments have started to use the business vocabulary. Bureaucrats are using cutting edge consultancies, mission statements, key performance indicators, customer focus and the list of terms goes on. The meaningless management speak has gone mad in Australia and dare I say in most other parts of the world too. A new book called Bendable Learning written by Don Watson says that business buzzwords have become so meaningless that businesses as diverse as a knackery to a high end lingerie shop can use the same meaningless words. He also suggests that part of the function of business buzzwords is to..”give people no escape. It forces everyone to comply with whatever management decides is going to be the prevailing culture of the organization. It is a dead language that works as an anesthetic to prevent you from questioning anything”. Interesting idea isn’t it? How many times have you sat in a business meeting and were bored out of your mind when someone was using business buzzwords to excess? Countless I’m sure.
In management and every other profession, there are certain business phrases that you have to use but what we’re talking about here are those people who use these terms to look intelligent and who make themselves out to know what they’re talking about. One of my favorite activities at the countless management meetings I have sat in on was to try and disarm someone who was just blurting out these words and get them to put it into plain English. If they’re just using business buzzwords to look intelligent you will catch them out and hopefully they will stop doing it. I used to say, “oh, so you mean…”.
Before you go into a meeting to present that next report read it out aloud and if it sounds like utter rubbish, then it probably is. Use plain English.You really wont impress anyone by using hyped up business buzzwords. More likely you will put them to sleep. You want to stir your audience to action, not anesthetize them. And in case you think that managers or even CEO’s who sit in on these meetings are impressed if you use these terms, think again. They are after all just men and women who are good at their jobs but they too like to listen to a presentation or read a report without being bombarded with all those business buzzwords of the day.
You can’t escape the terminology and phrases you might have in your particular industry but you can control how they are used. The old expression does apply that too much of anything is no good for you. If you overuse business buzzwords, you will start talking like that at home or when you are out with friends because it becomes part of who you are. There’s nothing worse than going into a chicken shop and asking for a ‘value added bird’, meaning you want the chicken that’s marinated in soy and garlic sauce.