I’ve already touched on this in a previous post, but I came across two articles lately that has me revisiting this. Some business terms are great – they describe longer ideas succinctly, such as using the word ‘leveraged’. Instead of having to go into the definition of what that means, you can say the word and people know. There are also some great business phrases that help to add some color to an idea or thought and helps to pull things together. A few that come to mind are ‘dropping the ball’, ‘gaining traction’, and ‘dont throw the baby out with the bath water’.
The problem comes when companies, and individuals, use sayings for the sake of using them. Here are a few that bother me:
– World Class
– Putting Customers First
– Best Practices
– Giving 110%
These phrases get overused and corrupted, essentially destroying their essence since people and companies are afraid. They are afraid to be different, so instead they opt to be the same. To use the same words as the market leaders, but by not changing their business practices.
You cant tell me that you value your customers when your customer service is fully automated, or even worse – outsourced to a foreign country. You cant say that your company is innovative when they are following what everyone else is doing, rehashing the same tired business speak. As the saying goes “If you have to say it, it’s probably untrue”. Apple is a highly innovative company, focused on easy usability and beautiful design … yet they dont say that on their website. The product say’s it all on its own.
Think about what your saying, either personally or with your company. Are you being different, saying what really matters – or are you saying what you think others want to hear, in which case, what others will ignore? I’m not saying it’s easy to do, it takes a lot of digging, but its worth it.
Edit: After I wrote this I found a great article by Jason Fried in Inc.com about bad business writing. Great article, give it a read. I may follow up on that in another post.