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Business-newspeak - Journal of Omnifarious

Feb. 8th, 2007

08:58 pm - Business-newspeak

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"downsize", "rightsize", "will be pursuing new opportunities", "feed forward", the list is nearly endless. All various bizarre business terms that actually mean other things but are meant to sound nicer and more positive.

I came up with a cynical explanation for this. It's basically spin. Nobody wants to take responsibility for anything that might be negative in some way, so the idea is to make it sound not negative. Then, if it's taken negatively it's the fault of the person who 'misinterpreted', not the fault of the person who gave the message.

I do think that reason is a big one. But I think there's another.

So much of business is based on the idea that if you're optimistic about succeeding, you're more likely to. That if you look at every difficulty or setback as a positive thing you'll get farther. And while optimists are less likely to be right than pessimists, the fact that pessimists often engage in self-fulfilling prophecy plays a big role in that. I think it's also true that optimists are more likely to succeed.

But, changing language like this in order to put a positive spin on it to try to convince yourself that the setback is really a good thing seems to me like putting the cart before the horse. You don't change how you think by changing your language, no matter what the political correctness advocates seem to think. You change how you think by changing how you think.

And in the meantime, all the upbeat "we don't want to say anything negative" business newspeak seems more like someone's trying to put one over on us. Like somehow we're stupid enough to not see through the positive spin to the real message.

Current Mood: [mood icon] cynical

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:somewoman
Date:February 9th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC)

You might appreciate this...

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Some Guy's company is in the process of "Multi-shoring."
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[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:February 9th, 2007 04:10 pm (UTC)

Re: You might appreciate this...

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*bitter laugh*

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From:d_e_l_i_r_i_u_m
Date:February 9th, 2007 04:50 pm (UTC)
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sad thing is, i see this tactic work in other ways. so they've got reason to believe it'll work.

someone special to me, has listed out some very interesting ideas about the biblical antichrist being not quite human, but a corporation.
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[User Picture]
From:ohpun
Date:February 9th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)

Fired

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Well, fired means job terminated for something the employee did (or did not do). Generally I think "fired" has unemployment benefit consequences. I've been downsized from three jobs. It would have been four, but I was already leaving for another job. In all cases, everyone agreed that I was doing a good job, but the company needed to pay less in salaries, so they terminated a bunch of people. I think there is fired and then any other euphemism you want that means "corporate decision to get rid of people."

"Will be persuing new opportunities" means "forced out" or the employee quit rather than be fired.

I don't know "feed forward." Or is that a typo and you really meant "feet forward" as how you're oriented when the security guards throw you out the door? :-)
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[User Picture]
From:omnifarious
Date:February 9th, 2007 08:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Fired

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I don't know "feed forward." Or is that a typo and you really meant "feet forward" as how you're oriented when the security guards throw you out the door? :-)

It basically means 'constructive criticism that may include positive things as well as negative'.

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[User Picture]
From:waterdusk
Date:February 10th, 2007 11:02 pm (UTC)
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I remember when I was 'downsized' that whenever anyone asked I would simply respond - insert the corporate lingo of choice for - your job ain't here no more so don't be showin' up. Over all this received occasional laughs and I would just stare at them with a dead pan face.
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