Last week a colleague submitted a short paper to me with the headers “where we are”, “where we are going”, and “what we can do”. My congratulations on avoiding more formalised “b-speak” headers was shortlived when he pointed out that he had lifted them from my edit of the last paper he wrote, where I had changed the headers to those I was now praising him for using.
A strange thing happens when we pass through the glass revolving doors of the office – real or metaphorical. We suddenly start talking and behaving differently. Despite being in the company of other people, interacting as people do both face to face and in written form, we start talking and writing in a manner we believe is appropriate to “being at work”.
This is no more pronounced than in programmes like The Apprentice, which feature people who have grown old before they have grown up.
I am not talking about the many clichés that have plagued our everyday business life, because they have infected our personal lives too. This is more about our readiness when wearing “the suit” to use words and phrases that we would never consider using with our family and friends. Words like…..
|Subject matter expert||Net present value||Stakeholders|
|Consultation||Risk assessment||Contingency planning|
|Leverage||Paradigm shift||Core competency|
Why do we use them? Is it a desire to fit in? is it because we think that being “at work” requires a different vocabulary, and that when we hang up “the suit” at the end of the day we can also put down our b-speak dictionary?
So what can we actually do about it? We can stop using these terms. We can talk and write simply. It is a challenge. Take the list above, add your own pet hates to it, and then challenge yourself the next time you write a report or formal e-mail to find alternative words you may use at home.
After all, we can attain an optimised paradigm if we leverage the requisite thought leadership to facilitate a holistic approach. Or something.