Many businesses find it impossible to run a meeting without lacing it with cliched jargon. Ridiculous phrases, odd metaphors and allegories seem to be increasingly used without a great deal of thought into what’s really being said or any consideration for those present who may not have heard this nonsense before.
Investors in People ran a survey last year which found that a third of 3000 workers polled felt excluded when gobbledygook jargon speak was used. Two thirds felt it gave the impression that bosses were being untrustworthy or hiding something. All those polled felt that it was a sign of bad management and showed the bosses didn’t really know what they were talking about.
There are also cases of male bosses using male dominated sports metaphors without realising that their audience is mostly women. Some of these are used without knowledge of their origin, eg. ‘stepping up to the plate’ means nothing unless you know baseball. (The UK version would be stepping up to the crease, from cricket).
Here are some of the most used and what you could say instead:
Blue-sky thinking: Think of some idealistic or visionary ideas – don’t worry about their practical application
Get our ducks in a row: Have things efficiently ordered
Brain dump: Tell everything you know about a particular topic
Think outside the box: Don’t limit your thinking to within your job description
Joined-up thinking: Take into account how things affect each other
Drilling down: Get more detail about a particular issue
Push the envelope: Improve performance by going beyond commonly accepted boundaries
The helicopter view: An overview
Low-hanging fruit: The easiest targets
Guestimate: A guess
Going forward: from now on
Singing from the same hymn sheet: talking about the same subject
and the best one:
I know where you’re coming from: you are wrong
I’m all for metaphors and there’s nothing really wrong with any of the above unless they are used when people don’t understand them or used out of context. The most successful managers are those that recognise that communicating in a way that everyone can understand is the key to having an engaged, motivated and enthusiastic team. If you find yourself trapped in jargon land, print out the list and play Buzzword Bingo.
The Plain English Campaign have created a ‘Gobbledygook Generator’. Click here to try it – You really can’t fail with systemised organisational alignment.
Ayd works with people and businesses to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation.
Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.
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