Bullspeak is the language of business. Otherwise known as corporate doublespeak, buzzwords, spin, or just plain ol’ BS, this style of speaking seems to be encouraged in most large organizations. Business people are enamored with big words, acronyms and phrases with multiple interpretations. The bullspeak rules to follow when communicating in business are:
• Always use extra words when possible (e.g., “worst case scenario” or “knowledge base” versus knowledge).
• Use as many acronyms as possible (e.g., “BPO will be used to reduce expenditures in our CRM system at HQ during the 3Q”).
• If you don’t understand what people are saying, respond with a trite generic phrase like “Been there, done that,” or “I can support that,” or try to respond with an even longer litany of buzzwords and acronyms.
• Try to master the use of important business phrases like “best-in-class,” “new paradigm,” “business intelligence,” “value proposition” and “thought leadership.” Use these and other related phrases while speaking, and others will be amazed and impressed with your business acumen.
Here’s an example of some typical business communication:
We’re currently in the process of benchmarking best-in-class customer relationship management and ERP value proposition key business processes to maximize implementation of key performance indicators to drive strategy and growth goals important to our major stakeholders. Huh?
It starts in college. College professors love big words and phrases and convoluted concepts. As a student, you need to learn to speak the language of the field you are studying so you can sound like these people once you graduate and get a job.
I recall spending the first two years out of grad school having to un-learn how I was taught to write and speak in college. Once I had a job, I had to write at an 8-10th grade level when I had been trained to write for scientific journals. I had to learn to speak in plain English, not the jargon I learned in school. Luckily I had an employer that understood the importance of clear communication. Yes, sometimes it is important to use precise language to clarify your meaning with technical audiences. However, most of the time, this sort of communication is not called for.