"Business-speak" is too soft a term.
We've used it to refer to the conflated, jargon-heavy language that creeps into corporate communication.
Verbiage like growth hacking, operationalize, and upleveling come to mind. What do these words actually mean? Cracking the code is a fool’s errand—you’ll only enter into a meaningless void.
"Business-speak" doesn’t do this type of language justice. (In truth, the term itself is, well . . . business-speak.)
Instead, we need to begin calling business-speak what it really is: garbage language.
We’ve borrowed this term from Molly Young’s brilliant article on the subject in New York Magazine.
[T]he hideous nature of these words—their facility to warp and impede communication—is also their purpose. Garbage language permeates the ways we think of our jobs and shapes our identities as workers. It is obvious that the point is concealment; it is less obvious what so many of us are trying to hide.
Growth hacking, parallelization, touchpoint, holistic roadmap, high-level integrated decks, futureproof, business-critical—these examples of garbage language sound important but communicate next to nothing. They’re all flex and no substance.
Using such language purposely pushes people off balance and excludes them in order to defend one's own lack of contribution. Colleagues on the receiving end of garbage language sometimes feel forced to pretend to understand and use it, or risk not fitting in.
When garbage language becomes the dialect of a business culture, less business gets done. Think of the time wasted using and deciphering such messages. Think of the potential clients lost due to confusion and false bravado.
Garbage language, therefore, is bad for business culture, bad for business communication, and bad for business bottom lines.
So, what’s the solution?
Plain language. (Scream it from the rooftops: plaaaain language!)
Communicating in clear, precise terms allows you to accomplish more business in less time and reveals the true value of your work.
By using plain language, you contribute to a culture of clear, honest communication in your workplace, which is good for business. No garbage about it.