If you are a consultant, or some other type of seller of BS, your livelihood depends on your ability to sling the bull with the best of them. In fact, if you selling anything from raw materials to copiers to software, you’d better learn some cool acronyms and buzzword phrases like “scalability” or “knowledge base.”

If you have a great product like a Ferrari or an Apple iPhone, you don’t really need to sell; the product sells itself. However, most salespeople need to master the buzzwords so they can sound like the people they are selling to. In the military or government it is even worse. Perhaps one of the benefits of all the acronyms and BS in the military is to confuse our enemies.

If you are not a salesperson or in the military, a benefit of being able to speak using technical and business jargon is that your bosses might think you are smarter than your peers, and you may just get that big promotion. Another benefit of doublespeak is that people may not be able to figure out you are an idiot. I remember a client that was a master of buzzwords and consultant phrases. Once I asked a few questions I realized the guy didn’t know he was talking about.

 

What Really Happens

What really happens is that we all walk around wondering what people are saying. We go to meetings and get confused, we read reports that we don’t understand, and listen to presentations that are fogged up with doublespeak and jargon. Rather than stop someone and ask, “What did you just say?” we nod knowingly, make a few notes and pretend we comprehend every word.

Customers don’t understand our literature, employees don’t understand our policies, and communication does not occur. Because of the confusion and poor communication caused by bullspeak, it is a big threat to your organization. Just about every large organization has a problem with communication. Speaking in jargon and acronyms is one of the reasons for this.

I notice that you use plain simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English – it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.

Mark Twain