Short post today, as I’m pulling a Led Zeppelin and headed to California for the remainder of the week. No surfing or necessarily fun in the sun, yet for me, it’s fun of another kind: talking with people about what I love in the hopes that they’ll be able to use it to do what they love.
As a complete aside, I’m also sporting a bruise on my left thigh that is roughly the size of Tanzania. I know this first-hand, as I’ve been there. I took a teensy spill on my track bike on Sunday (hit a slick spot on the track) and well, I’m living in Hey, Hey, It’s Hematomaville for awhile now. But I digress. At least I started this paragraph by telling you I was going to digress.
You are making my ears bleed.
I Bust My Ass…
Even when I’m not ditching my bike with one gear and no brakes, I’m busting my ass to make sure that companies I work with speak English. And people keep fucking this up widestyle. Maybe not you. But definitely you for sure. Why are you not speaking English?
When did we start making up words and phrases to describe what we do? When did the words we had become not good enough? Here are some examples:
- Drive results (because if you’re not, you shouldn’t have a fucking job)
- Create results-oriented strategies (because there are people who create strategies designed to tread water? Puh-lease.)
- Shift paradigms (keep your hands off my damn paradigms – they are fine where they are)
- Develop overarching concepts (as the only thing overarching is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis – used to live there. Seen it. It’s definitely overarching.)
I’m invited to connect with numerous people each week on LinkedIn and I see this bullshit every day. Why are you selling yourself short by using terminology that’s not only meaningless but makes your target audience – a potential client or employer – feel like they’re either not smart enough to understand what you do or being bamboozled about your actual level of proficiency in your trade?
Just Stop. Please.
The English language has been around for centuries. It’s a perfectly good language. And you know what? I’m not immune to buzzspeak, either. I have colleagues who threaten to install a sort of “swear jar” every time I get too full of myself in a client report or proposal and lapse into speaking buzzspeak-laden nonsense.
Just use English. It’s good stuff. All buzzspeak does is make you look lazy. Ditch the MBA-ease, because really – I’m not that bright. Stop being fancy, as plain vanilla gets the job done (and doesn’t waste anyone’s time). There’s a time a place for flourish, and you should know the difference between flourish and total horseshit.
And if any of you have the above phrases, or phrases like them, in your profiles, websites, or corporate mission statements consider the alternatives:
Instead of “driving results,” state what you achieved. “During my 18-month tenure as the Director of Social for Company XYZ, I led a team of 6 staffers and we achieved the following (bulletpoint, bulletpoint, bulletpoint).”
Instead of those bullshit “results-oriented strategies,” tell us about what you created. “At the inception of my role as Director of Paint Peeling at Company XYZ, I created a 24-month plan designed to help the company’s marketing department (bulletpoint, bulletpoint, bulletpoint). As a result of the strategy’s components, the department demonstrated a 34% decrease in expenditures and a 63% increase in profit. This allowed us to increase our team by a headcount of two and add an additional executive to the Marketing team to head up sales in our Mid-Atlantic region.”
Stop talking about shifting paradigms. If you truly did that, you should be able to find clients and customers who can speak to its truth. None of us are Steve Jobs, nor should we aspire to be. And not even Jobs shifted paradigms. He built teams that planned and then executed on those plans. The products that resulted? The consumers of the world would attest that Apple’s creations “shifted paradigms.” Get my drift?
We’re all victim to this right now, especially as the New Hampshire primary kicks off today. Politicians make a career out of using 83 words to say nothing at all, and I know it annoys me. It probably annoys you. Speaking English is about honesty – with yourself and your clients/customers. It’s about respect and not making people spend time they don’t have figuring out what the hell you’re saying. It’s also about confidence. Buzzspeak is linguistic wood putty for those who lack confidence, as the truth never seems good enough.
Now, my gimp hip and I must pack. So little to do, so much time. Wait – strike that. Reverse it.
And for those who wonder how I dispel with the buzzword bullshit speak in my own business? I keep companies from looking like assholes online.
Concise. Short. Makes you want to hear more. And more importantly, no one wants to look like an asshole.
English: It’s good enough.
Disclaimer: I’ll admit it – this post wasn’t really all that short.