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'Heads Up' - Just Who Does Like Business Jargon?

21st Dec 2006
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Weeks after a survey told us that staff want their bosses to ditch the jargon, a new poll reveals that managers also want to see an end to this often unintelligible waffle.

The latest survey, of more than 200 managers, found that 67% of managers are turned off by terms such as “blue-skies thinking” and “blamestorming”.

They felt it caused confusion and used by those who want to appear more interesting and knowledgeable than they are. Most agreed that it was only acceptable when used sparingly when everyone understood its meaning.

Only 5% of respondents to the PTP Training and Marketing survey believed it had advantages and was “upbeat and motivational”.

Despite a general dislike of business jargon, almost half the sample (47%) said they came into contact with it on a daily basis and a further quarter on a weekly basis. Only 1% said they never came across business jargon in the office.

And the trend looks set to continue with 77% of managers expecting its use to increase over the next five years.

The survey found that jargon was most prevalent in certain departments and among specific hierarchies. The worst offenders were those in sales closely followed by those in marketing – who together polled over 70% of the vote of likely jargon users.

IT came in third position ahead of HR and Finance. And it is the senior and mid-tier managers who are most likely to drop the jargon into conversation. Higher-level ranks of managing directors and partners together with lower level junior and trainee managers generally avoid its use.

PTP’s managing director Marc Holland commented: “Our survey also showed that a large number of people are embarrassed to ask what the jargon means and this lack of understanding can lead to a breakdown in communication. Users should ensure that any jargon they introduce into a discussion has clear meaning and everybody understands it – or is singing from the same hymn sheet! When used sensibly, business jargon can be a good motivational tool.”

Top Ten Most Creative Business Jargon Sayings as provided by British managers surveyed by PTP:

  • 1.Seagull managing = Managers who fly in, dump on you and disappear before you notice.
  • 2.Having a colonic = Dumping out all your ideas.
  • 3.Put that idea in the car park with the engine running = we’ll talk about it later.
  • 4.Blamestorming = Getting together to decide who to blame when it all goes wrong.
  • 5.Get our ducks in a row = getting ready and organised. But beware of the “Duck Shuffler” – the person who moves in at the last minute to mess it all up.
  • 6.Feed that one to the monkeys = not your best idea.
  • 7.Can it wash it’s own face? = is it financially viable?
  • 8.Stretching the envelope = pushing the boundaries.
  • 9.Get the moose on the table = time to discuss the really tricky issue.
  • 10.Sweat the assets = make sure you get the most out of anything we’ve had to pay for.

* What's your favourite example of business gobbledegook? Post a comment below.

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