Cut out the Clichés

Matthew MacLachlan

17 Jun 2011

Yet again, British journalists are commenting on the ubiquitous use of clichés and business buzzwords with a journalist in The Independent recently launching a one-man war on clichés. The paper’s website has built up a list of the top 100 banned words and phrases which include fine examples of verbiage, jargon, overused buzz words and other types of cliché.

The article suggests that politicians are the worst offenders citing David Cameron’s use of ‘pillar to post’, ‘one size fits all’ and ‘reinvent the wheel’ in a recent speech on the NHS. Other professions are probably just as guilty and certainly the business community has its fair share of serial offenders with expressions such as ‘bandwidth’, ‘offline’, ‘face time’ and ‘game changer’ all becoming common place in business meetings, documents and telephone exchanges. These expressions are sometimes useful and can act as shorthand between those who share the use of similar buzzwords. Yet why do so many of us find our eyes glazing over when we hear or see these expression or feel the user loses credibility as we inwardly compare them with latest batch of hopeful candidates on The Apprentice?

If you want to engage with your counterparts and want them to act on the messages you are communicating, you need to use language that makes sense to them and resonates with their heart as well as with their head. Yes, some people you work with may be very comfortable with these expressions and give you more credibility for using this type of language. However, for those of us who aren’t tuned in to this type of business jargon you may need to reconsider the language you use in order to get the results you want.

The secret is to be aware of your own communication style and of the range of styles and preferences you will encounter in your workplace. This will then help you to adjust and adapt your communication to ensure that the content of your message is well received. Communication skills training programmes can help you to decipher your own and others’ preferred styles and to put in place techniques and strategies to win over your audience so that they respond favourably to you.

 



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