When the Chancellor says he plans to “focus 110% on the economy” it’s a sign that either we need to start putting our money under our mattresses, or that we now live in a time in which even our leaders speak in buzzwords and expect us to understand what they’re actually saying.
Worse, many actually believe trotting them out in conversations impresses the people they’re speaking to. Getting on for one in five workers use jargon and corporate ‘speak’ because they think it will improve their chances of promotion, a recent survey found. But nearly half of those surveyed said they lost respect for colleagues who use this kind of corporate flannel.
It may sound like corporate buzzwords are used among middle managers in larger firms but it made me think that when it comes to doing business, whatever size of company you are or you are dealing with, it’s unforgiveable to use such mumbo jumbo.
When it comes to running a small business, the key to success is to make it as easy as possible for customers to do business with you. You actually make it harder for them to understand what you’re about (and crucially, what you can to for them) if you carpet-bomb them with corporate clichés.
You need to be clear in your own mind of why your business exists: what is its purpose? What sets it apart from its rivals? Those principles should guide everything your business says and does. (But please, whatever you do, don’t keep them “front of mind”.)
You want to make it crystal clear to your clients (and prospects) how you’ll help their businesses be more successful. Littering your conversation with jargon masks flabby thinking as well as an underlying feeling of insecurity. By spouting the same inanities they’ve heard (and been driven mad by) so many times before you’ll appear like nothing more than a “diet” version of a big company – smaller and with no distinctive flavour.
So if, in a pitch to a potential client, you talk about your “core competencies”, all you might prove is: (a) you’re incompetent; (b) you’re an idiot; or (c) you’re both.
Telling a client that meeting its needs will require you to “think outside the box” or to indulge in some “blue sky thinking” might translates as: “What we normally do won’t work in this situation. So I don’t know what the answer is. Help!”
Don’t try to get “buy-in” for an idea; instead, ask your workmates whether they think it’s any good before presenting it to the client.
You don’t sell “solutions”, because you don’t know what problems your potential clients have until they’ve explained them to you. And, between us, it sounds really, really pompous.
You don’t provide “suites” – unless you’re a furniture salesman.
And, finally, if you feel tempted to “reach out” and “touch base” with a customer, then just stop, count to ten, and pick up the ‘phone to speak to them’.
Here’s a list of the 10 most common examples of corporate jargon, according to a workplace survey:
1. “It’s a no-brainer” (32% use this at least once a day)
2. “Thinking outside the box” (30%)
3. “At the end of the day” (26%)
4. “It’s a win-win situation” (26%)
5. ‘Touch base’ (25%)
6. “Going forward” (24%)
7. “110 per cent” (21%)
8. “Close of play” (20%)
9. “It’s on my radar” (19%)
10. “Flagging up” (19%)
Which buzzwords and jargon do you hate the most?
*Research as reported at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2192490/The-10-office-phrases-drive-mad.html