Let me state this right up front. I am not against buzzwords.
Often they are the most accurate and efficient way of communicating a message. As a leader you need the ability to break things down, simplify and be to the point. Buzzwords, when used correctly do exactly that. They understand that your time is important, and seek to inform and educate you in a precise and powerful manner. Yet as a society we have waged a war against buzzwords. We roll our eyes at ‘strategy’, tune out at ‘synergy’ and stop reading at ‘leadership‘… Still here? The problem does not lie within the words themselves but in the way that we use and receive them.
Buzzwords lose their value when they are used in the wrong context. Knowing your audience is essential for good communication. There is no point throwing in the word of the day if it’s not the right type of language for with whom you’re speaking. Understand the meaning of your chosen word and how it will resonate with your audience. Choose your words appropriately.
Buzzwords lose their value when they are used without substance. Too often, words are thrown into documents or presentations without good reason. It’s a form of exaggeration, which has unfortunately become commonplace. Exaggeration is a practice that actually devalues our language and makes people less likely to listen to us. If buzzwords are used without substance behind them then there is little point in using them at all. It is essential to make sure your communication is purposeful. Choose your words wisely.
When used correctly, buzzwords effectively communicate meaningful messages but we have become so accustomed to the inappropriate use of them, that we immediately disregard those who use them. I think its time to give buzzwords another chance.
So, for the buzzword user…
Ensure you know your audience and pick your words accordingly. Have purpose behind the use of your buzzwords and a sound understanding of their meanings.
And for the buzzword receiver…
Before immediately disregarding anyone who uses them, assess whether that word was used in the correct context, and ask yourself if it added value and clarity to their message. You can then thank them for their effective and time saving communication!