It’s a funny thing, “bullsh*t”. It is an everyday expression. Everyone laughs at it, everyone groans at it. We play Bullsh*t Bingo. Yet it doesn’t go away.
In a world obsessed with brand, growth, positional advantage and market share, it is hardly surprising that we wade daily through a quagmire of the stuff to get to where we are going. Its amoebic ability to freely multiply means it is only getting worse. The workplace sector is particularly prone to its shallow charms.
Of course it’s not all the same. There are several particularly invasive and excruciating types of bullsh*t in workplace. So let’s have a new term for each of them, and a typology. That’s a great word, “typology” – a list of different stuff.
- Identikitsh*t – snappy and irritating terms that essentially all mean the same like “flexwork”, “smartworking”, “workshifting” and “futurework” because there are just not enough in the world already
- Shinysh*t – the creation of expressions to essentially describe the same thing but that make it sound like something new and better – like “agile working” and “activity based working” – all just variants of “flexible working”, a term that was fine and which we were still really only just beginning to explore and understand before it just wasn’t enough
- Lazysh*t – the misuse of under-researched terms with a meaning already pre-established – things like “presenteeism” and “third place”
- Puffysh*t – the creation of an over-inflated phrase or expression to make a simple (and already-known) idea sound interesting, or to lay claim to intellectual superiority – like last week’s gem, “productivity toxins”
Did you see what I did there?
Some of the resulting problems of the proliferation are that:
- We believe that because we have named something we have described it – we haven’t, we have just named it, but talk as though we understand it
- Because we create a false belief that that we understand something without bothering to try and understand it, we repeat it everywhere we go and then others do exactly the same
- We spawn events and papers focussing on something purporting to be new, that isn’t – and waste everyone’s time and money as a result – but still go on doing it
- We actually go backwards – we become less enlightened, less intelligent, less observant – dumbed into believing we know more than we do, because we simply talk like we do (and don’t want to appear that we don’t know)
- Make sure we understand what we already have before we try and immediately re-bottle it so as to sound more enlightened or advanced than the people using the previous term – not every miniscule difference justifies a new term
- Challenge the bullsh*t we see proliferating, and refuse to be drawn into the irrational fear that we are being left behind or not using the right language
- Be aware of and avoid profit-making events that overblow a new tag, because they have something to gain from it
- If/when we see something new to us, research it – it’s not too difficult to be inquisitive and curious, and establish what it really means for ourselves
- If a friend or colleague uses it, take them to one side and let them know it’s a tiny bit embarrassing – like we would if their clothing was gaping inappropriately or they had bad breath – which we all do, don’t we?
- Stop inventing new terms for different type of bullsh*t, its all the same
Enough really is too much. If it’s in our mouths, it’s in our hands.