Sunday 27 April 2014

Opinion: For meetings that work

For meetings that work
Normally, I would tweet about this, but it behoves me to write a blog to accompany what the basic tweet would not do as efficiently as I would like it to.
A few days ago, you might have read a blog that appeared to suggest I hate meetings, having compared and contrasted the Dutch and English culture of office and team meetings.
Meetings do have a purpose, for interaction to create some familiarity between people, to share knowledge, gain understanding or give clarity and purpose to some venture so everyone appreciates intent, desire, context, theme, tone and drive of any undertaking.
Make clear with example
These meetings begin to lose their purpose when they have no agenda, when people ramble on and there is no control or when the simple language of communication is obfuscated with jargon.
Now, I tend to use very basic analogies to create a picture in the minds of the listeners to gain some effect, it is my way of carrying everyday experience into the seriousness of a situation with the hope that listeners would gain immediate realisation without wasting too many words. Probably, they get overused, but in many cases, I would see heads nodding in some understanding of what was said.
Not the English we know
What gets to me is jargon, the superfluity of endless nonsensical jumble of words that have become the stock of many management-types who have learnt this odious communication slant and threaten to bring everyone into speaking with the same vocabulary.
I was in a taxi cab with two work colleagues the other day, we were brought together by the need to share a cab since we were going to the same place, the conversation could have been as casual as any if they attempted to speak in plain English, but it was not long before I was lost to incredulity and bafflement.
I heard words I could for the life of me begin to understand even if I were to use the context of the sentence to elicit what the word pertained to. They were English words alright, but not used in the way standard English dictionaries define them.
Jargon is not cool
The conversation was suffused with business jargon that I was as perplexed as to wonder if people did have to go out and learn this stuff to sound knowledgeable and express a level of commendable expertise in some subject.
In my view, nothing beats the command of English that makes proper use of words, idioms and sayings, all of which the well-read would understand and the less so can at least reference somewhere and gain understanding.
That this kind of rotten jargon has crept into interviews has been a headache for me, some encounters have been so uncomfortable just because I do not speak the lingo. I state here with as must clarity as I can, I do not want to learn the lingo much as I do not use expletives that people are shocked if certain circumstances lead to my blurting out one.
Banish its usage
How much I would have liked to contribute to The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary, but I do not have an inkling about most of the jargon I have heard in the past few months.
There probably is no shame in asking a direct question or when washed down with a torrent of jargon, ask just what they really mean. “What do you really mean by that?” If after a couple of attempts there is still no clarity, then ask for a plain English explanation not forgetting to say, without the jargon.
Consign to oblivion
The curators of The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary have said, “We can only hope that you're not here to actually add buzzwords to your vocabulary.” This is not the time to impress with stupidity.
Meanwhile, if anyone knows what ‘steer’ in business jargon means, add to this dictionary. I know it does not mean to control or direct (verb) nor does it mean a castrated male bovine animal (noun), yet in context, I have heard it used as a verb and a noun. It is so annoying.
Let us work to consign jargon to oblivion.

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