An elaborate thesis vis a vis the over-leveraging of efficiency-negative linguistic choices in the business context


I am not sure if it was the trademark blue, chambray, button-down shirt and blazer with gold buttons, the bluetooth headset or just the cheesy swagger, but the second I saw his (to protect his innocence, let’s just call him “Mr. Pretentious Twat”) hand go towards the Blackberry in the front-facing belt holster clip, my ears shrunk a bit and started to try to fold in on themselves.

They knew exactly what was coming – like so many times before – a free-flowing verbal torrent of twisted metaphors and unnecessarily complex phrases that ultimately would leave the recipient confused and any unfortunate bystanders befuddled and potentially bleeding from the ears. Or should I say, as Mr. Twat just might, that they are left “suffering a loss of circulatory fluid from their aural organs”?

I shit you not – his initial greeting when the caller answered was “Hi Steve, (Mr Twat) here. I just wanted to reach out to you and engage you in a conversation vis a vis…” and then went on to discuss whatever “Twats” discuss. I zoned out at that point for fear of picking up another ridiculous phrase that I would end up repeating.

You know the words and phrases I mean. No-one “meets” any more – they “touch base”, sometimes doing so “offline”. Nothing gets “used” – it has to be either “utilized” or “leveraged”.

And this issue is getting worse, as people started to feel it’s okay to improvise and ad lib. Recently I had a business contact suggest that we should “actionate” a recommended strategy.  And I was asked if some information I provided would be “tie-backable” to some prior info.

Now, I am not the first to lament the state of modern business language (amongst others, Don Watson has written two great books on the loss of our once-great language, ‘Death Sentence’ and ‘Weasel Words’), and in fact I am forced to play the role and even participate in discussions like this just to do business. What I am increasingly wondering though (as I tend to do) is….. why?

Aren’t we all “time-poor” and need to save time? So why would Mr. Twat not just say “I called to talk about…”? Is it really that cool to use the phrase “vis a vis”? Or “reach out”? And isn’t up to the other person whether they “engage” in your conversation?  Did I miss a memo somewhere that conversations are now scored based on their value in Scrabble points?

Later, Mr. Twat mentioned (to another caller) that he and Mrs. Twat were “in the second trimester”, which got me to wondering further — will Mr. Twat use this language in even the most simplistic of discussions – with his new baby?

I can just imagine him now, asking his baby and wife “to re-consider the workflow process in the ‘feeding-soiling cycle’ and ideate 2-4 strategies to work collaboratively towards an objective of achieving a longer ‘inter-diaper-change’ period”.

At which point Mrs. Twat would be well within her rights to do us all a favor and “introduce an immediately impactful synergy” between her foot and his ass.

— Irish

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