I recently came across this great article on BBC Scotland that talks about business jargon. I've read plenty of features like this before but they never fail to make me smile. It seems that there's a growing realisation that business jargon should be minimised or eradicated in favour of clear, more emotional communication, both verbal and written. Everyone I've talked to about business jargon claims to hate it – so why then do we use it at all?
Writer and branding expert John Simmons has a theory based on a childhood experience with his grandmother. “She would answer the phone; a machine which for her was unfamiliar and slightly strange,” he recalls. “Sometimes, while she was on the phone you'd sit in the other room and think, 'who is that on the phone? I don't recognise that voice' – and it was my poor old nan putting on this posh voice.” “And that's what happens in business – people put on that equivalent of the posh telephone voice” when they use jargon at work. “They think it does them good – actually it makes them just seem rather ludicrous and pompous, so laugh at it, cut it out, move on,” say John.
Here at The Storytellers, we're very much in favour of clear communication but, as in most modern businesses, jargon occasionally creeps in. So next time I hear someone say 'ducks in a row' or 'touch base', I might remind them of John's grandmother and tell them there's no need to put on their 'phone voice'…