Why businesses use so much jargon

NSO CHILD ASPIRES In a life that speaks nonsense as many executives speak. But as soon as managers start climbing the corporate ladder, they seem to begin to lose the ability to speak and write clearly. Instead, they get caught up in the gobbledy gook forest.

The first explanation for this phenomenon is that the jargon dislikes vacuum. Often, executives know that they don’t say anything important in their speeches or notes. They can limit their remarks to something like “profitable (or down)”. This is relevant information. However, executives rather want to make grand statements about team spirit and corporate philosophy. They aim to make their business more exciting than “selling more at less cost”. Therefore, they fill the space with long words, ambiguous jargon, and buzzwords like “holistic.”

Another reason managers indulge in waffles is related to the nature of the modern economy. Previously, the work was primarily about the manufacture or sale of physical objects such as bricks and electrical equipment. Service-based economies include tasks that are difficult to define. When it’s difficult to explain what you’re doing, it’s natural to rely on inaccurate terms.

Such terms have a purpose, but they are still frustrating. Take “onboarding”. A word that describes the process by which a company assimilates new employees may be helpful. But “boarding” works (at least in American English, which is more comfortable than British English for “passengers on a plane” as well as “passengers on a plane”). It seems that the only purpose of adding “on” is to be able to create the same ugly word “offboarding”, which is the process of leaving the company.

The exaggerated word is also used when the actual business is violent. Private eyeThe British satirical magazine, which often ridicules corporate satire, had regular columns pointing out the absurd tendency of companies to tag their products with the word “solution.” Carpets have become a “floor covering solution”. (Bartleby has long wanted to start a business dedicated to dissolving items in water, so it’s sometimes called a “solution solution.”) Today, the target of ridicule is the use of this term. DNA, “Perfect customer service is in us DNA“.

Anna Wiener used the term “garbage language” to describe “a kind of non-language that is neither beautiful nor particularly efficient” in her book “Uncanny Valley” about life in the technology industry. Tech executives have spit out a very grand vision of how to reshape society, but their rhetoric often clashes with the harsh reality of selling ads and monopolizing user time. did. This is a variation of the old Ralph Waldo Emerson dictation. “The louder the statement about his honor, the faster it was to count the spoons.”

The third reason administrators use jargon is to establish credentials. Why is one person better suited to manage another? It is difficult to identify the obvious attributes. Administrators are different from doctors who prove their expertise by passing exams and hands-on training. If you can speak the words of management, you appear to be eligible to rule. If others do not understand terms such as “synergy” or “paradigm”, it only shows their ignorance. In a sense, the manager acts like a medieval priest servicing in Latin rather than the local language, adding to the mysterious nature of the process.

Once a corporate term is established, it is difficult for administrators to avoid using it. The term is always present in PowerPoint slides, speeches and annual reports. Not using them suggests that the manager is not fully committed to the work. The junior staff will not dare to doubt the words for fear of damaging the prospects for promotion.

Of course, new words are inevitably created in the business world as well as in other areas of life. Technology has pioneered a variety of previously unfamiliar but now widely understood terms such as hardware and software. However, many of the more frustrating jargon comes from other areas of life, such as self-help movements.

This is all important because continuing to use ambiguous language is a sign that the speaker is not clearly thinking. And if the person in charge doesn’t think clearly, it’s bad for the business. Those who actually know the details can explain things in an easy-to-understand way. And if the manager’s colleagues understand the message, they are more likely to accomplish the right thing. Terminology gets in the way.

This article was published in the printed business section under the heading “Technical terms hate vacuum.”

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