We’re not reinventing the wheel here, guys
“Right, so, by the end of play today I’d love to reach out to the rest of the team and blue sky it. Moving forward, we should probably start thinking outside the box – oh hang on, let’s park that and hang fire – we don’t wanna drop the ball again. Maybe we should run it up the flagpole… after all, we want to be singing from the same hymn sheet. So, let’s push the envelope and get the ball rolling. Ball’s in your court. Let’s synergise.”
Now, if you’re a normal person, I’m assuming you’ve started hyperventilating, your head in your hands, desperately holding back tears of utter despair. If you’re not, here’s a question: “What’s wrong with the above paragraph? Did you notice anything about the way it was written? The phrases that were used?”
That’s right. They all came straight out of the book of absolute business bull&%$#. Otherwise known as management speak, office jargon… or complete and utter garbage. And I’m being kind here. Because let’s be honest – it’s bloody unbearable, isn’t it?
A universal experience
This week on the Litmos Heroes production team, we found ourselves reminiscing about our jobs past. Nightmare bosses, incompetent supervisors, minimum wages, crying in the car park – you know the drill. But the thing we found the most amusing was the language people in a lot of these places would throw about. I should mention we’re a team of animators, writers, and graphic designers (read: unbearable creative types). This means we play with Rubik’s cubes, have bean bags, massive fish tanks everywhere, and a hammock (this is a joke but management, do we have the budget for this?) But we’ve still been there. Because it lurks everywhere. Everywhere. Whoever you are. Offices, sales meetings, shop floors and break-rooms everywhere are implementing their bizarre assault on the English language.
Our team here all come from different industries, different cities, even different regions… but we identified the exact same phrases and words. Odd – it’s like a dialect that exists exclusively within the four walls of every workplace, yet fails to survive on the outside.
Think about it. You’ve never heard Jack in the pub telling his mates they should really ‘touch base’ and have a ‘thought shower’ before choosing their next destination, have you?
No. Because he’d get beer thrown right in his stupid face. Which would be waste of beer (then again, he’d deserve it). But more importantly, he doesn’t do it because that language doesn’t belong in the casual setting, does it?
Well, my point is – why does it belong anywhere?
Why must we live like this?
Although I’d love to find out why this happened, frankly, I don’t have the energy to read through countless articles with their separate theories on the origins of corporate jargon. Especially not after writing out all of those buzzwords and phrases before. That was exhausting. As far as I’m concerned, just like that Baywatch re-make with Zac Efron – it’s happened now, and we all have to live with it. What we do need to ask ourselves though, is why, in 2018, do we continue to talk like this?
Here’s a mad idea… should we stop?
Opposite to the desired effect
Some of us here on Planet Earth are still human – with somewhat functioning brains and a bit of emotional grasp – and we find it pretty counter-productive. What I mean is, I don’t think it unites us all in the desired (I assume) manner. Instead, I think it alienates us, makes us uncomfortable, and puts up a big old communication barrier that progressively feels harder and harder to break down.
What’s my issue? It’s not authentic. So it doesn’t breed authentic communication. If people feel that they need to put themselves across in a scripted manner, they’re going to be less likely to share their genuine opinions, feelings, and thoughts. They’re more likely going to feel repressed. And you know what repressed workers can result in? Yep – a negative office environment, gossip in the break room, punch-ups during after-work drinks… you get the point.
And one more thing. From experience, people hide behind big words or convoluted expressions when attempting to appear intelligent. This never works, and you know why? Because knowing longer words is not a marker of intellect. Anyone can remember words. The smartest, most engaging people are the ones who can articulate themselves in a clear, concise way.
Be part of the change
That’s right, you can join the rebellion. Collectively, we can stick it to the man. Bring down the establishment. Kick-start the revolution.
Here’s my proposal.
We declare war on management speak. When you hear it, don’t repeat it. In fact, respond with deliberately simple language. People won’t know what to do.
And you know when you hear a phrase you genuinely don’t understand? Admit it, and do it out loud. I dare you. Just ask the person plainly (in front of everyone) what that phrase actually means. Then watch their face.
This will not only be hilarious and satisfying, but it will promote natural speech. You can guarantee everyone (human) in the vicinity will be internally cheering you on, celebrating such a revolutionary movement. And with any luck, they’ll follow suit.
However, we must be patient. This will not be an overnight success. It’s going to take all of us, and we’re going to need to work tirelessly.
So, join me in this anti-management-speak crusade. Think of the greater good. The bigger picture. And never forget the beauty of simple, effective words. It’s what Hemingway would have wanted. Let’s not let the grass grow too much on this.
Oh God… Now I’m doing it! Make it stop!
It’s cool. We got this
At Litmos Heroes, we’re flying the flag for plain English.
We’re well aware that getting people’s attention for training is difficult enough. Mainly because we’ve been those people falling asleep at the back of the classroom, while someone in a grey suit mumbles something about customer retention. Or was it sales techniques…? Who cares.
And in the spirit of putting ourselves across properly…we’re developing an awesome collection on Communication on Social Skills at the moment. You can remind yourself and your team how to communicate like living, breathing, engaging people. It’s not too late.