The company email was painful.
“We are focused on enhancing our climate by creating a paradigm so that we may be a model for blah, blah, blah.”*
And you’re selling what, now?
As someone who’s dealt with politicians, large faceless corporations and small children for years, I’ve been attacked almost daily by gibberish. However, “enhancing our climate” is not just an attack, it’s the literary equivalent of an intentional food poisoning.
Trust me. I just threw up a little.
The point of communication, any type of communication, is to communicate. And the best way to do this is to choose words that actually mean something. Unfortunately, since we Americans have used the English language as long as we can remember, we think we can communicate. However, most of us have a weaker vocabulary than Koko the sign language gorilla. We have the mistaken idea that if something sounds good, it must be good. Right?
For example: “The positive aspects of the elements of our character factor into condition of the situation.”
I just made that up (hey, I could work in government), and although the sentence may seem important, all it really sounds like is official. Read it again and tell me if the sentence means anything. No, wait. I’ll save you the time. It doesn’t.
“I want French fries,” has meaning.
“I sat on a cat,” has meaning.
Even “I like both major candidates running for president,” has meaning. It means you’ve gone stark raving mad.
The point is Americans are busy people and we don’t have time to spend determining if we should listen to what you say, or if we can nod our heads and wander off to read in the bathroom.
Here’s a tip: If you use words like aspect, character, condition (unless you’re talking about the great 1968 song “Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In” by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition), element, factor or situation, chances are you’re simply babbling in Corporate-Speak.
If something’s important enough to read, it better be written simply enough to understand. Here are Jason’s Five Steps to Battling Corporate-Speak:
Step one: Have an idea.
Step two: Chose words to express that idea. If you can’t define a word without saying “uh,” or “um,” don’t use it.
Step three: If you’re confused about words, you can find lots of them in a big red book. No, the one labeled “dictionary,” not the one labeled, “Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book,” although that one does have a killer recipe for roasted potatoes.
Step four: Put these words together. If the words don’t make sense, try putting them in a different order.
Step five: Read it aloud to Koko the sign language gorilla. If she doesn’t throw you through a window, you’ve advanced beyond Corporate-Speak and can now communicate in English.
*Company name withheld to protect the enhanced integrity of its character.