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$3 WORDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 14, 2013

BRYCE ON LANGUAGE

– For all those boring and effete intellectuals out there.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

When you travel around the corporate world you inevitably run into a lot of buzzwords and catch phrases which we like to use in our daily vocabulary. This may be okay if we are amongst our peers, but it has a tendency to turn off strangers, such as guests visiting our offices. There seems to be a great inclination to impress others with a rather verbose vocabulary. Some people take it a step further and use what I call “$3 words” in an attempt to impress you. For example, today you hear a lot about project “stakeholders” which represent the customers or clients sponsoring a project and are footing the bill. I guess terms such as “customer” and “client” sound rather mundane when compared to something like “stakeholder.” Another term we hear a lot about is “agile” which implies a speedy approach to solving a problem. Frankly, I find the expression “quick and dirty” to be a more apt description of what people have in mind. “Nonlinear management” is another classic expression. I’m not too sure exactly what this means; “linear management” would imply an orderly progression of decision making. So I presume “nonlinear management” simply means “chaos.”

I find $3 words to be very irritating and I’m sure they are used to do nothing more than divert attention away from the subject matter. I know it turns me off immediately. Whenever I hear terms like these, I start to hold on to my wallet as I know someone wants something from me.

Having been in the Information Technology business for a long time, I have heard a lot of mumbo jumbo over the years. For example, I have heard expressions like “data stores,” “tuples,” “views,” and “segments” which, when translated, means “files” and “records.” I have also heard of such things as “afferents” and “efferents” (meaning “inputs” and “outputs”), and “central transforms” (meaning “updates”). I guess if you can’t invent anything original, you simply change the vocabulary so you can sell more books and training courses. If you have ever had to work closely with Microsoft products you know they march to their own drummer and use technical words to suit their needs as opposed to those already adopted by the industry.

Here’s a tip I learned a long time ago: “speak to communicate.” Wouldn’t it be nice if people used words we already understood as opposed to trying to invent a whole new vocabulary to impress and confuse others? Think of the time we would save just using what we already have. But alas, we live in a world that resists any form of standardization. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, we live in a single country separated by a common language. I’ll give you one last $3 word: “pseudo-intellectual” and that’s simply referring to people who pretend to be something that they really are not (and like to use $3 words).

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


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8 Responses to “$3 WORDS”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A U.V. of Largo, Florida wrote…

    “Loved it! $3 words always put me off too. My “antenna” would stand at attention and not for the users intention either.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    An M.S. of Royal Oak, Michigan wrote…

    “Good advice. Mark Twain said he would never use the word Metropolis because city worked just as well. I paraphrased.”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    An M.B. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “Every profession has this word problem. I think it’s even worse in my former profession, because it’s impossible to have a conversation without talking about diagnosis, and the ridiculous, misleading names of many psychiatric diagnoses are way too confusing for lay people. For example, Schizoid Personality Type has no relation at all to Schizophrenia. So why did they name it that? Beats me.”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “Some years ago, I experienced frustration with a young, know-it-all teacher who insisted that her job was to “facilitate” learning for the 6th grade students in her class. We met after the first quarter grades had come out and every student had received poorer grades from her than his or her history showed. Students were in tears and parents outraged.

    This teacher’s theory was that she would “facilitate” by giving out assignments and it was up to the students to find answers, sources and to actually learn the subject. I suggested that since actual teaching had shown to be very effective and that is what we paid tuition for, she try that instead. I would “facilitate” learning by driving my kids to school and she would teach them. She held her ground with all of the angry parents and her ground turned out to be out the door. “

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    A C.H. of Oldsmar, Florida wrote…

    “HMMMMM……………………………………..I suppose I could be more cognizantly anticipatorial of those malaprops.”

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A C.V. of Lansing, Michigan wrote…

    “Ha ha ha ha! This was great Tim!”

    Like

  7. Debbie said

    In total agreement here! Very off-putting and pretentious. People who try too hard to impress, never do. Great read; thanks.

    Like

  8. Tim Bryce said

    A D.D. of Toronto, Ontario wrote…

    “Enjoyed this post and I couldn’t agree more”

    Like

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