In the past few years, we seem to have lost our way with language – or rather, we have let it sweep us up in a tsunami of sayings and buzzwords that are excruciating in their inanity. Nowhere more so than in the corporate jungle of Hong Kong office life.
These words seem designed to obfuscate rather than communicate. They contrive to depersonalise a situation to the point of political correctness and corporate-speak overload. Ironically, they put the breaks on any real meaning, stopping it dead in its tracks. All hope of actual communication is lost in a sea of words and catchphrases that add up to nothing more than grandstanding gobbledegook.
“Reach out” proffers the most saccharine pretence of caring. Some say it falls into the “weasel words” category. It should be used by no one, with the possible exception of pop group the Four Tops. And when it comes to careers, we no longer work in a particular industry. Instead, we are “in” a certain “space”. Lost in space, maybe.
“Drilling down” is another favourite. Unless you’re on an oil rig, I don’t think so. And how about “low hanging fruit”? Perhaps a trip to the doctor might be in order.
These days, “brands” are on a “journey”. So when the buzz-speak kicks in at that early meeting, be sure you “don’t stop believing”. This is my “pain point”. It’s enough to have you wishing you’d prepared a round of buzzword bingo – aka bulls**t bingo – before the session got going; first one to tick them all off wins.
Don’t shout “bingo” too loud, though, you’ll interrupt all that “blue sky thinking”. And when a colleague wants to “circle back”, do resist the urge to break out into the chorus of Circle of Life.
Language is the tectonic plate of communication, constantly shifting and moving, and prone to erupt with exciting new words and phrases that capture meaning in the most delightful ways. However, high on the Richter scale of irritation, it’s hard not to wish that some of the current crop of buzzwords would just buzz off.