Business-newspeak - Journal of Omnifarious
Feb. 8th, 2007
08:58 pm - Business-newspeak
"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.