Painfully funny link of the day:

Frank Lingua and Buzzwords

It's funny because I hear language like this every day. It's painful, well, because I hear language like this every day. Why do we feel compelled to constantly make up new ways to say the same thing, only less clearly? I suspect that it's because the concepts we deal with daily, especially in the high-tech world, are so abstract that we have to resort to metaphors to try to make ourselves understood. This process has gone completely out of control, however, to the point where I don't even understand what my coworkers are saying anymore, and it takes them forever to say whatever it is.

So, as part of my one-man effort to rescue professional communication, I hereby swear to cull the following phrases from my daily conversation:
  • "Hone in on...."

  • "Flush out the details." I will, however, be glad to flesh them out, since that sounds so much more positive.

  • "Get our arms around it," or, "Throw a rope around it." (I especially like the imagery of this one when used to describe either an executive decision-making process or a problem with a large server.)

  • "Make it transparent."

  • "Going forward...."

  • "Take it offline," unless, of course, I'm actually talking about taking something off of a network.

  • "Eating our own dog food."


Some things I can't bear to part with yet, but will promise to use sparingly:
  • "Herding cats." Too apt to my current role. Plus, not being a big cat fan, I kind of like the image of driving them across the range. And the branding.

  • "Proactive." I realize that this was made up because it sounded better opposite "reactive," but saying, "be active about it," just doesn't cut it. Maybe I'll try "plan ahead."


In general, I pledge to say what I mean, mean what I say, and be satisfied with using the old words in interesting ways rather than making up new ones. Maybe the refreshing change will get people's attention.
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