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By James Carlini

A pragmatic, visionary perspective —–

Are you in an organization that uses a lot of “corporate speak”?  Does your management skirt around issues by using terms no one else knows except the people in your organization? Do they even realize they are not communicating as effectively as they should? (both internally AND externally)


It is more than a pet peeve to hear people talk in “corporate speak” instead of being politically accurate and just speaking succinctly.  I am sure you have heard some of the following in your organizations:

“Did you have a four-eyes review?”  Translation: Did you have two people review this document/ report?  When I first heard this, I thought it was a  derogatory statement.

“Are we all team players here?  Translation:  Are we all working together?  I like to counter this stupid question with, “No, I am NOT a team player,….(pause) I am a Team Leader.” Try that next time and watch your boss fall off the chair to the floor.

“Do you have line-of-sight on this project?” Translation: Do you have a direct view of what is happening?

“Did you hear about the GEM?” (Global Efficiency Model). “We are having an undocumented force reduction today.”  Or for the pragmatic, “we are having a layoff today.”

“Are we going back to BAU?” Translation: Are we going back to “business as usual”? Oh cool, using just initials. It must be a carry over of Tweeting.  ROTFLMAO.  OMG. IMHO leave the initials alone.  Speak the words.

Too many are using a lot of euphemisms and what I call, “corporate code words” to get their point across, but the sad thing is that they are NOT getting their point across.  It’s getting lost in translation.  It’s getting lost in people not understanding how the words are put together and what they are supposed to represent.

Get back to the basics. Get back to explaining things in plain language instead of corporate speak.  Especially, if you are dealing with people outside your corporate culture.

Communicating effectively between companies working on the same project is critical.  Communicating effectively between companies working on an international project where there is also a layer of multi-cultural differences is even more critical.

There was a student in an International class explaining the failure of communications between two employees of an international company that needed to work more effectively on  a project in China.

The director from the United States wanted to tell the accountant from China she needed to take a more assertive role.  Instead of telling her that plainly, he used a sports analogy that he thought would work, “You need to step up to the plate.”  Too bad she did not know anything about baseball.  Just think of her walking around all day trying to figure out what her boss said to her.

“You need to step up to the plate” – what does that mean to someone who does not know baseball?  Does he mean I should step up to the plate on the table? How do I do that?

That would be like someone from Asia telling someone from in the United States, “A frog’s back faces both the sun and moon everyday.”

What does that mean?  Too bad if you don’t know.  That is the trouble when you speak and no one can understands you because no one understands what you are trying to convey.


Noticing someone’s inability to speak well was when they filled up all their sentences with “You know…..” in the front, middle, and end of the sentence.  It was pretty clear that they could not put a full sentence together without using  “You know” as the glue to keep a sentence together. “You know” was not a verb or a noun, but more of a “sentence glue” for those who could not get out a complete thought.

The latest “indicator” for lack of coherency is adding the word, “So” before speaking. It is something that is addictive as well. Other people start to talk the same way in the same corporate culture.  Do the examples ring a bell?

What is your company’s new product?

“Soooooo………… the new product we have introduced is……”

Tell me what are your plans after college?

“Soooooo………….now that I am graduated, I plan to look for a job.”

Tell me, what do you think of the current economy?

“Soooooo………….now that gas prices are lower, I think we are in a recovery.”

It sounds LAME.  The scary part is that you probably don’t know you’re doing it, BUT everyone who is listening to you does.

While we’re at it, look at all your PowerPoint presentations to see if you have any typos in them BEFORE you present.  Nothing worse than a typo to throw your audience off-track.

After one or two, the audience stops hearing you and what you are trying to sell and starts to look for the next typo.  The focus is to see how bad you put the presentation together and any point that you wanted to make is now lost to all the eager spell-checkers.

Nothing worse than seeing something like this on the opening slide:


Hmmmmm…. How many did not even see a typo?  Don’t worry, your audience will, and they will be looking for the next one on the following slides.  You just blew your presentation.

Add “So” before you speak and you really have earned the title of Executive Doofus of the Year.  “Sooooooo………this is our long-term plan for next year….”

Stop with the sugar-coated words and corporate speak.  It does NOT raise your stature in the organization and certainly not with people outside your organization trying to understand what you are talking about.

We need to get everyone on the same page when it comes to definitions and understanding the basic framework of any project. Corporate speak and using internal definitions does not move projects forward effectively.

Doesn’t matter if you are a Baby-Boomer, Gen Xer, or Millennial.  Clean up your act!

“Sooooooo……..Don’t be a Doofus, stop speaking like this.”

CARLINI-ISM : “Speaking with political accuracy can only help people come to a real understanding of the issue at hand. Being politically correct clouds up decisions as well as judgement.”



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Copyright 2015 – James Carlini


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