Business-speak and church-speak

February 4, 2003

A vice-president at work yesterday said something like, “There is potential downside to having the BUs focus on P&L. This is an evergreen topic.” Huh? I had to ask a co-worker to translate. (This is not an exact quote, but the phrases are real.)

Why does management use business-speak like “What is the ask?” (that’s another one I’ve heard), instead of speaking English? Part of it is that jargon can make communication more precise among those who share the same vocabulary — but I think an unconscious motivation is to establish your superiority over others by using terms they don’t understand.

There’s a lesson in here about church-speak…

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.