In Theory...Bad language

In theory ... Emma De Vita's weekly look at management-speak.

There are words and phrases that you're better off avoiding at work. No one likes a manager who spouts the latest jargon at the drop of a hat. But you'd be surprised at how many of your organisation's buzzwords you pick up after working there for a while. Before you know it, you'll be using the worst third sector acronyms and hating yourself for it.

Graham Edmonds has written a book called Bad Language to put a stop to nonsensical managerial cliches. He also shows how to read the language that your colleagues use so you can work out whether or not they are pulling a fast one. You must learn how to use language clearly so that your employees understand exactly what you mean - it will make you a better manager.

Here's a quick test. What would you say if someone described you as 'astro'? Not much. It means 'always stating the really obvious'. Or if your boss told you to 'kiss'? It's likely they weren't after an intimate embrace but were telling you to 'keep it simple, stupid'. Charming! Whatever you do, hope that no one ever calls you a 'wombat'- a 'waste of money, brains and time'.

Avoid horrible phrases such as 'going forward', writes Edmonds: "This phrase has in recent years spread like a virus with no apparent antidote. Business people, politicians, reporters use it freely without restraint - after all, what other direction could they possibly go?" Enough said.

- Emma De Vita is editor of the books pages on Management Today.

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