Synergy, capacity, resources, bandwidth, jargon. Where does this crazy talk come from?
One day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed we enter the business world. We sit at our desk for the first time, look around, and find that we're surrounded by business-people. These business-people are wearing nice suits, drinking coffee, and nodding at graphs. We look back at ourselves. We're not wearing a nice suit, drinking coffee, or even looking at a graph, let alone nodding at one.
We don't want to be 'found out', so we change. We adopt the language of the business-people and because there's weird tribalism in most companies, nobody calls us out. Next thing we know it's 15 years later and we're in a meeting telling people that we need to 'take it offline' instead of saying we don't want to talk about it anymore.
Have you ever dipped into corporate language outside of work? If so, you've probably been met with a load of 'what the hell are you on about?' comments from your partner or friends. But if this language doesn't help us communicate with the people we care about, why would we think it's any better in the business world?
Why we can learn a lot of communication skills from small children.
I'm from a big family, and every time I speak with my younger nieces and nephews, I realise two things - they say what they want, and they pick the most direct route of saying it. Wow. Doesn't that sound nice? I wonder what else we can learn from these tiny sages?
I'll be the first to admit that Live Group fell victim to corporate jargon for a good few years. In fact bullshit bingo players would have done very well in our offices. So it was refreshing when our rebrand made us look at the language we were using. As in, really take a look. We had to take the time to create a tone-of-voice that represents what we are - friendly, honest humans, who know how to have a laugh. It's not the most revelatory announcement, but at the end of the day, Live Group is made up of living, breathing people who communicate naturally (post-Friday beers notwithstanding).
So, we set ourselves a challenge. Kill the bullshit. Speak like humans. Forget everything business taught us about how we should speak and instead focus on what we were trying to say. Two things happened quite quickly; emails got a hell of a lot shorter and people could understand our proposals without employing a jargon translator. It's funny actually... when people understand what you're trying to sell them, they're far more likely actually to buy into it.
Here's your challenge.
If you're tired of wading through the jargon swamp, start making the change yourself. Encourage your colleagues to do the same. Next time you sit down to write an email, think about what you're trying to accomplish, what's the ideal result? How do you get there? If you're trying to get Dee from accounting to send an invoice, do you need to tell her about last night’s football results before you check whether she has the 'bandwidth' to do a task?
No, ask her. Send the email. We don't come across as more intelligent or more friendly when we bulk our messages out with tangents and business talk. Good people respect other people's time, so let's get to the point.
I want to put this challenge out there to the broader communications world. Let's do our jobs - let's create clear and concise messages that reflect ourselves and our clients, respecting the time and intelligence of everyone that engages with them.
Until then I'll be engaging in some blue-sky thinking, getting outside of the box, pinging my colleagues and leveraging solutions at scale, all to move the needle for our clients. Or, you know, helping our clients do better.