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Monday, January 13, 2014

Minding our Business Language 
Business should be about serving customers and hopefully making a profit in the process. But there are other aspects to business life that some find amusing, while others consider upsetting. As a new debate starts on whether we should be teaching young people languages like Chinese and Arabic to reflect the changing dynamics in world trade, the quality of our business communication in English remains a fascinating topic.
Many consider the jargon used in offices to be a pointless irritation. A survey of 2,000 managers in the UK by the Institute of Leadership and Management found that the most irritating phrases according to those surveyed were ‘thinking outside the box’ – meaning to look at things differently. This was followed by ‘going forward’ which simply means in the future. ‘Let’s touch base’ – used when the person wants to call, e-mail or meet to discuss an issue – was a close third.
Chrissie Mahler, founder of the Plain English Campaign, believes there is a serious side to the irritation and overused jargon: it could be holding business back. She insists: “Management-speak gets in the way; it acts like a barrier to procuring new business. It is downright dangerous... the longer mangers sit around like gnomes with their fishing rods in a pool of ‘blue sky thinking’ the longer it is going to take for the economy to bounce back.”
Terry Smith is the CEO of Fundsmith, a UK organisation that aims to promote simple business communication. It has just published an amusing paper entitled Banned Words and Phrases. Having been involved in financial services for nearly four decades, Smith is particularly interested in analysing official corporate communication. Company management, analysts and commentators often communicate with investors in a language that is at times obscure, if not outright misleading.
For the complete article, click here 

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