“Yes, I agree, that would make our lives much easier and the process more efficient” said Dave, as he looked down and straightened the sleeve of his jacket over his cuff link. “But I’m afraid my team just doesn’t have the bandwidth at the moment.”
Bandwidth? Had our company recently tightened up our internet plan? To save cash? They were tightening up on expenses. But, hang on, what did this have to do with Dave’s team helping us with our sales reports?
Ahhh . . . yes . . . I see. . . this was Dave’s non-confrontational and cryptic way of saying they were too busy. I get it now. Or do I?
Seems everyone in a corporate environment at the moment is looking for weird and wonderful ways to disguise saying no, expressing disagreement or even conveying positive news. When did we stop speaking English and start hiding the real meaning of what we want to say behind a mask of convoluted rhetoric?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of treating others with respect and good old fashioned manners. But can we all just admit that sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone thinks your idea really is a good one or if they just want to ‘take it offline to discuss the synergies that might be gained’ or just ‘park that idea’ to distract you until you forget about the ‘paradigm shift’ that you were about to propose.
I truly believe business would benefit if we agreed to get rid of all these confusing, and often astoundingly ambiguous, terms that are meant to convey opinions. How refreshing would it be if someone in a meeting were to say ‘that is a great idea, let’s do it – how can I help?” rather than suggesting we ‘leverage it to see how we can monetise the benefits going forward’.
So how can we discourage this? The introduction of tasers is an option I considered recently but, sigh, might be going a bit far (although they are available for shipment within 24 hours on eBay).
But a workplace that rewards straightforward communication and genuine language might not be a bad idea. Humanitarian activist and author David Pallota talking about jargon in a blog post for the Harvard Business Review sais that “I thought I was stupid. Now I realise that if it is to people’s benefit that I understand them but I don’t, then they’re the ones who are stupid”
As women, we are naturally strong communicators and have an intuitive knack for getting exactly what’s in our head, to come out of our mouth. Now, as women, I implore you, to have the integrity to listen, think carefully about what has been said to you and, most importantly have the courage to look that person in the eye and tell them “I honestly have no idea what you just said to me.”