How Did Corporate Jargon Grow Out of Control – and How Do We Stop It?

How Did Corporate Jargon Grow Out of Control – and How Do We Stop It?
From Recruiter - September 13, 2016

Ive often asked myself why so many of us in the corporate world feel compelled to talk about getting our ducks in a row, building straw dogs, or making sure were all singing from the same song sheet for our elevator speeches. How did this start? Who isresponsible for the blatant proliferation of jargon throughout the corporate world to the point where it is acceptable in an interview to refer to including people as baking them in? I want the single throat to choke (whoops, I just used jargon) from an accountability standpoint so I can ask them a simple question:

Why? Why Did You Do This to Us?!

When I finished school, my first corporate job was as a consultant working for one of the big global consulting firms. There, I was inundated with a slew of corporate expressions. I was certain that we consultants were to blame for thisespecially given the strange looks we often got from clients when we said weird things like, This new process could be met with tissue rejection.

But the story behind where this and other expressions actually came from runsmuch deeper than a group of consultants coining terms to make themselves sound smart. AtThe Atlantic, Emma Greentraces the history of office talkas far back as the Industrial Revolution. She shows us that corporate jargon emergesaccording to what isimportant to the corporate world at the time of its creation. For example,theexpression low-hanging fruitemerged during General Electrics Workout days, made famous under Jack Welch, when organizations were looking for ways to quickly and easily identify problems and solutions. Similarly,pinging and double-clicking down emerged during the technology-driven Dot-com Revolution more recently.

So it turns out that thepartner in my group who felt compelled to talkabout paradigm shifts wasjust a corporate-jargon-speaking product of his time(the term was coined in the 1960s by philosopher Thomas Kuhn). Being labeled as suchinstead of as a blatant abuser of corporate buzzwords no one understands would certainly feel better during therapy.

These days, however,authenticity and relatabilityare more important than ever. We want people to speak to us in plain Englishnot only in the corporate world, but in pretty much every facet of life. In politics, for example, voters are begging elected officialsto stop the politician-speak and just talk to us like normal people.

Join the Conversation: WhatBit of Corporate Jargon Annoys You the Most?

How Do We Stop the Madness?


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