Dan Pallotta is the president of Advertising for Humanity and author of Uncharitable. Last week Dan wrote a very interesting blog post about business jargon. To quote Dan, “I’d say that in about half of my business conversations, I have almost no idea what other people are saying to me.”
I could not agree more. Between the idioms, the acronyms and the hyperbole, it is almost impossible to follow conversations. Dan credits the Internet for making an already bad problem worse.
Maybe he’s right. Or maybe it is a failing education system. Or maybe it is a growing number of insecure business professionals seeking job security through language obscurity. Or maybe – just maybe – we’ve become so accustomed to marketing, we’ve forgotten how to communicate.
You remember President Reagan? He was often referred to as the great communicator. But in truth, he often did not know the difference between reality and a film reel. He rarely communicated and frequently marketed. I pass no judgement on him, and in fact openly admit that I voted for him… even when he said stuff like this:
“Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”
“I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.”
“How can a president not be an actor?”
In truth, President Jimmy Carter was the last great communicator of our time. There was very little marketing and a whole lot of communicating going on there. No abstract concepts, no meaningless expressions, just the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… so help us God. Stuff like this:
“I have often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can’t get my wife to go swimming.”
“I’ve looked on many women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. God knows I will do this and forgives me.”
“People make a big fuss over you when you’re President. But I’m very serious about doing everything I can to make sure that it doesn’t go to my head.”
Hmmm. Now that I consider it more closely, perhaps the difference between marketing and communication is one without distinction. Maybe it does not matter so much whether one uses business jargon, but rather that one has something worth saying.