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'I've been caught left field by a curve ball.' What stops our normal-speak?

Insight

01 March 2016

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2 ratings

There was a turning point when my husband realized what I do and why organisations sometimes need help with their communication.

When he was an athlete he'd always be amazed by my tales of corporate-speak and jargon. 'Why don't people just say what they mean?, he'd ask. Once he'd retired from sport and owned his own business I admit to being secretly smug (well, not that secretly) on the day that I overheard him telling his business partner that he'd been caught left field by a curve ball. It happens to the best of us! 

Jokes aside. What gets in the way of normal-speak and using words we never would in the real world? 

I'm sure there are many reasons but top of the pile, I think, is that we think that's how we should talk in work. Important talk. Clever talk. Business talk.  We seem to forget that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. I often tell my clients when they're insisting that something really is that complex and there's no way to lessen the cognitive load that they must be healthy pessimistic about their audience. This isn't about dumbing down. It's about making something palatable and accessible so that people can absorb what's intended and get back to work.  Making something complex appear simple is one of the greatest communication and, indeed, business skills. What did Einstein say, if you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it! Luke Johnson wrote in the Sunday Times recently that everything is too long. Emails, memos, meetings.

I'm pretty sure that lots of us think that too. So, what's getting in our way?

Tomorrow why don't you write fewer words, simplify all that you can and drop the jargon? Low hanging fruit, my husband might say! 

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