If a phrase starts to roll off your tongue, close your mouth. Peppering bureaucratic buzzwords throughout training manuals, slides, and discussions makes communication bland and meaningless.
Here's a starter list of jargon that may muddy your message and mar your image as a clear communicator in the classroom and straight shooter in the boardroom:
- Solution (miracle hidden inside all products and services now offered by all corporations around the world)
- Enhancement (an improvement too insignificant to charge for but worth touting; often confused with body parts)
- Core competencies (as opposed to core incompetencies?)
- Optimization (the process of making things better and better—as in cooking, flying, making love, making stealth missiles, making movies, building skyscrapers, counting votes, applying makeup, charting sea turtles)
- Moral clarity (when you decide you can't get away with something without being fined or jailed)
- Impactful (newly coined term meaning packed full of potential to be hard- hitting—in the mind, heart, pocketbook, gut, mouth)
- Robust (fat, wealthy, expensive, complex, healthy, meaningful, deep, feisty; can be applied to people, philosophy, technology, equipment, training, strategy, food, religion, research, vegetation, medicine, lightbulbs, laughter, beer)
- Branding (marking dead stock in inventory that hasn't sold in years with a new "look and feel" so it finds its way to market again; marking people as they resurrect new areas of expertise in their second, fifth, and ninth lives)
- Methodologies (in more primitive times, this was methods or the way you do something)
- Technologies (yet undiscovered wizardry from the netherworld)
Speak specifically, succinctly, and sincerely. It's surprising the attention plain English generates in a world of babbling.
Dianna Booher works with organizations to increase their productivity and effectiveness through better oral, written, interpersonal, and cross-functional communication. She is CEO of Booher Consultants, a communication training firm, and author of more than 40 books, including her latest, "The Voice of Authority: 10 Communication Strategies Every Leader Needs to Know" and "Booher's Rules of Business Grammar: 101 Fast and Easy Ways to Correct the Most Common Errors."
By Terence Brake
Turbulent economic conditions are causing business leaders to question every expenditure and reduce costs. Cost control, however, will not be a sufficient strategy for remaining viable and competitive into the future. It is also critically important to continue creating new sources of competitive advantage from global talent. The increasing digitization of the workplace has dramatically altered our ability to leverage the combined skills, knowledge, and experience of talent worldwide, but this new global and virtual workplace also makes new demands on leaders at all levels.
The new global leader may do very little actual traveling beyond his or her own national boundaries, and yet still be required to lead collaborative teams across multiple geographic and cultural borders, and to make decisions that make global—and not just local—sense.
We need to revise our current conceptions of global leadership by factoring in the rapidly evolving distributed, digital, and collaborative workspace (and life space) and its impact on human relationships.
By focusing through three powerful lenses—the environmental, interpersonal, and personal lenses—we can better appreciate the new global leadership context, and the attributes leaders will need to succeed in that context.
Terence Brake, president, TMA World-Americas, has worked with global virtual teams for more than a decade, and has written several books and numerous articles on global leadership and cross-cultural management. His latest book, "Where in the World Is My Team?" is due to be published in early 2009.