Prior to establishing AJ Financial, I spent my career working within businesses of varying sizes. Each industry has its own idioms and alphabet-spaghetti acronyms. These can take some getting used to, particularly the acronyms, but also the style of speech. My favourite expression ever – from the nuclear industry of course – was a description in an engineer’s report of a “Passive, unfiltered, low-maintenance ventilation system” in a storage facility – aka “a hole”.
I remember early in my career meeting a very lively manager who was very fond of “cooking with gas” and “thinking outside the box”. These expressions have been around for years now, and although they still crop up occasionally, it’s fair to say that most people have a sense of what they mean.
Mannerisms such as these are often innocuous, although there are situations where they can be less so. Weak managers and politicians will use language as a tool to obfuscate and confuse those around them; to use language as a substitute for results, and to languish in the feeling of self-importance that they have created by believing that they’ve understood the situation (or their answer) better than those around them.
I’m a believer in plain speaking. The English language is rich enough for all of us to express ourselves in a way that is clear and unambiguous to our audiences. We should be wary of managers skilled at manipulating it into meaningless euphemisms such as “squaring the circle”, and watch out for it in the workplace.
Milverton, in Somerset where I live and work, could easily be described as a sleepy village, but nonetheless it has given me an opportunity this week to watch somebody really “shake the tree”. This wasn’t in the boardroom, however, and fortunately something good is likely to come from it, courtesy of Sheppey’s Cider. Enjoy!