Futureproofing & Parallel-pathing – the “Garbage Language” We Use in the Workplace

“No matter where I’ve worked, it has always been obvious that if everyone agreed to use language in the way that it is normally used, which is to communicate, the workday would be two hours shorter.

– Molly Young, “Garbage Language: Why Do Corporations Speak the Way They Do?

Have you seen this piece from New York Magazine and Vulture doing the online rounds in the past few days? I wonder how many of you can relate to the aversion to corporate speak?

While you may not agree with everything the piece suggests – and you may have some “garbage language” words that have a specific meaning that can’t be encapsulated another way – it’s worth considering how the language you use affects the people you’re with. Have you ever found yourself in a meeting where someone else in the room uses a term that initially seemed like nonsense to you, and which took some time to figure out what it meant? If so, you know how that feels for others, especially for anyone who is newer to the team or to the organization.

This week’s tip:

Watch your language! Listen to the words that come out of your mouth during meetings – and look at the words that come from your keyboard over emails and other messaging. Consider using less jargon and more direct and specific language that anyone could understand. Make your messaging clearer and more inclusive.

Try this out this week, and let us know how it goes in our Facebook group! We’d love to hear from you. As always, you can subscribe to our feed here, or sign up for our weekly newsletter to get these articles directly in your inbox.

Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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