"The finest words in the world are only vain sounds if you
can't understand them. The best sentence? The shortest."
Few things make my blood boil more than so-called management speak. Thankfully, I'm not alone, according to new research from the Institute of Leadership and Management, which conducted a survey on the most annoying habits of British workers.
Weasel words like'taking it to the next level', 'going forward', 'low hanging fruit'and 'touching base' are among the list of phrases that irritated many of the 2,000 managers questioned.
The Guardian has compiled its own list of 'bamboozling bureaucratese' (how's that for a horrible phrase?! :), whilst there's a dedicated site with a comprehensive list of some of the worst offenders around the world.
There's a clear distinction between technical jargon and meaningless phrases that have a frightening, virus-like ability to infect everyday speech - especially in business, government and through the media which 'normalizes' this nonsense.
Jargon - when used appropriately - has the clear purpose of making communication among specialists more efficient. Weasel words, on the other hand, give the impression of authority, but in reality, tend to obscure and are generally meaningless .
The use of this type of language could lead to suspicion. What's wrong with writing or speaking in a clear and simple manner? What do 'thinking outside the box ', 'leveraging synergies' or 'core competencies' really mean?
I've been to many meetings filled with the latest corporate buzz words and other gobbledegook and witnessed people leave with a totally different understanding of what was discussed.
Management speak can seriously impact your organisation's efficiency. Your reputation, in part, rests on your ability to communicate well.
Weasel words might make fun wordplay for recent MBA graduates or business school academics, but they have no place in the real world.
'Going forward' (in other words, 'in the future'), if you really want to sound smart in life and business, take a leaf out of Leonardo da Vinci's book: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.