This is an expression which is used all the time by everyone to describe everything.
As I wrote in a previous blog post, I’m studying business. Being introduced to the business kind-of -thinking, I constantly learn things about the world of business. Recently I listened to an completely brilliant interview with Dan Pallotta, president of Advertising for Humanity and author of Uncharitable. Pallotta has made a blog post about business jargong – how we are expressing ourselves in business.
In his blog posts and in this interview he is proposing that the language of business is becoming harder to understand. A continuosly changing economy is forced to be described with new terms. As the interviewer Sarah Green proposes: “before we produced door knobs, and we sold door knobs” – there’s no problem in describing that. Nowadays the business has become that complex that we don’t even know what we are selling anymore. Instead there is a belief that the cleverer the answers sound, the better. It makes people ashamed to not understand, and they don’t ask what you really mean.
And when it comes to launching new products the overshadowing problem is how to describe them. Pallotta here says, that the deeper issue here is that fancy language is used to describe something you don’t understand anymore: Thinking outside the box without knowing what’s really in the box in the first place. One popular phrase being heard is for example when waiting on the telephone for booking a flight tickets. When waiting we are told: “We appreciate your patience”, which actually is not true at all. Dan Pallota calls such expressions “a surface symptom for a lack of love”. He is quite right. If the the firm really would mind keeping customer on the line waiting, they would improve their ability to answer the calls.
Simply put: what we producing are not meaningfu enough and we have to distance ourselves from it. We are often whether commited to the task nor understand what we are doing completely.
Dan Pallotta himself: “When I was younger, if I didn’t understand what people were saying, I thought I was stupid. Now I realize that if it’s to people’s benefit that I understand them but I don’t, then they’re the ones who are stupid.”
A solution to this is probably to behave in the opposite direction. Being more authentic, honest and say what one really means.
But are there really no gains in using a language tailored for describing a field such as business? Well, have a look at this salesman and decide for yourself!