My issues with Bizspeak


Anyone who has read George Orwell’s 1984 will be familiar with newspeak.

In a bid to crush free thinking and creativity the IngSoc party – the government of the dystopian Orwellian future – erase words from the English language to create a stunted charmless functional new lexicon.

Those who are yet to read the novel but have spent anytime working in an office, will still be familiar with Bizspeak.

To sound intelligent businessmen and women invent, twist or change the meaning of existing words to create a corporate langauge of jargon filled unintelligible bollocks which makes normal people curl thier toes in pure cringeworthiness.

The Bizspeak top 5

Synergy

Meaning two forces working together. Used as team name in The Apprentice every season. The word is not actually new, it’s Ancient Greek, but has been seized by corporates. Usually used just after a merger and right again before most of the new people – who fail to synergise – get the boot.

Value-add

Apparently when providing a service, it is not only the service itself which is important. It is also the value added by said service. Used by companies who are too crap to provide the service promised in the first place.

Touchbase

Apparently “lets touchbase” is Bizspeak for “let’s have a meeting”. Often said using microphone headsets, grinning stupidly and leaning back in an wheeled office chair. Also has to be said loud enough for the rest of the office to hear. Why touchbase without anyone else knowing?

Moving forward

This one is a staple of salesfolk. Quite why you cannot simply say ‘the future’ when you are selling toner remains a mystery.

Skill-set

A skill-set is always discussed when a new person joins a firm and simply means skills, or in most cases, the number of lies told on a CV. “His/her skill set is in synergy with what we need at this company, after we touched base last week we had to offer them the job due to their value add”.

Bunch of fives: Five things that ruin Facebook

Using Facebook is like the social networking equivalent of meeting an ex after a messy break-up. Parts of it are so good you wondered how you ever lived without it, but most of it makes you wonder why you ever fancied it in the first place.

The Facebook break-up

Breaking up with someone on the phone is bad, breaking up with someone via text is worse, breaking up with someone on Facebook is unforgiveable.

The cry for attention

Leigh Jackson is… having the worst day ever.

Who cares? If you need to vent go and call a friend. Having 30 people replying to status updates to check on your sanity won’t make you feel any better. Having no-one reply is fail.

Unusual friend requests

I never spoke to you in high school. Why would I speak to you now?

Shit games

Vampire bite, Bear Hug, Farmville… the list is endless! Play shit games in your time, without sending me endless wall posts with top scores.

The Facebook poke

If you can’t be bothered to exercise your fingers and type someone a message reconsider your friendship.

The dress code short straw

There is often talk of the differences in norms and values between the sexes but the dress code has to be at the forefront of the stakes of injustice.

As a man I can grudgingly admit that there are some advantages to owning a penis, inlcuding guilt free sleeping around and the ability to urinate standing-up.

But I would consider trading both for more leniency when it comes to sensible business wear.

Men, either in the office, at a party or a wedding reception, have a lack of serious options for meeting those two hard to define words – smart casual.

Jeans won’t get the job done, and there is never a suitable occasion for formal shorts. Which leaves one option – the trusty shirt and trouser combo.

The more flamboyant can dress it up with a tank-top, jumper or maybe even a loosened tie but we are seriously bereft of options.

The fairer sex, on the other hand, have more choice than is proper and decent. Their sheer breadth of shoes says it all – all we have is black, brown, laces or loafers.

Don’t get me wrong – I am definitely pro choice. It’s the abuse to the system that this freedom of choice allows which must no longer go unchallenged.

As men have been stuck in the uncomfortable trousers and their stuffy shirts for as long as I can remember, fashion conscious women have been blurring the smart casual line for years.

Leggings are replacing trousers, boots are walking in the place of shoes and skirts are begin to work their way further and further up the leg.

But it is acceptable because it looks good. Very good in most cases!

So this not a plea for a return to strict Amish style office wear for women, it is just a simple plea for fairness, equal rights and egalitarianism.

And, of course, to be able to dress like a scruff at all times. What does smart casual mean anyway?

Both feet in the rugby camp

Like the third round of the FA Cup and the Ashes test series, the Six Nation’s Rugby is one of those marquee sporting events that I have to mark on the sporting calendar.

But only because I want to avoid it.

I have a curious aversion to the game – and that is not fair on the game itself. As a sport, rugby can be intense, exciting and dramatic. It’s the fans I don’t like.

Perhaps that is harsh because the majority of fans are great – especially the Irish, the Welsh and Scots . It’s just the England supporters that boil my blood.

But it’s not all of them. Like the England football fans, where a minority are unbearable, there is a small group of national rugby fans who are so cringeworthy that I can only look at them through the cracks of my fingers.

And what it boils down to is whether you are in the rugby or the ‘ruggers’ camp. I know where I stand.

It’s the Toff Tofington crowd that I can’t abide, the fans who proudly sing Swing Low Sweet Chariot without knowing its roots in slavery and cling to the Calcutta Cup oblivious to its nod to the dark days of imperlaism.

Every rugby fan knows at least one supporter who fits the indetikit.

They are the fans who go to the pub in their replica shirts with upturned collars and loafers and loathe football for its “common” roots.

They pedal the myth that rugby is for thugs but played by gentleman, despite the spear tackling, the eye gouging and the arse poking in the scrum.

They treat rugby like a mark of class. A badge of exclusivity that separates the middle class wheat from the working class chaff.

At least you can watch football down the local, away from the hooray Henrys and Henriettas who are trying to seize the game for themselves.

I will be watching the weekend games but purely from the safety of my own home.

Then I’ll hold my breath before I have to go through it all again next year.

Trying to defend the indefensible

My housemate and I have been friends for more than 20 years and on the way to the tube station last week, via memory lane, the topic of conversation turned to childhood.


We started talking about living with our parents, the things we used to annoy them and their, often failed, attempts at trying to rein us in.



All the standard fare got a mention. The ‘wait until your father gets home’, the grounding (usually lasting for just a few hours) and the often underrated, and now frowned upon, slap.


Then out of nowhere, he said: “Did you ever get accused of showing off?”


It was something I had long forgotten and brought back vivid memories of the hundreds of occasions when my Mum, trying to get me to stop acting up when we had company, would level the immortal accusation.


“All the time,” I said. “And it always worked!”


And it did. The words could make the most unruly teenager stop in their tracks and rack their brains for the best response.


But there isn’t one. And therein was its power.


What could you say that wouldn’t make things worse? Denying that you were showing off always made it look as if you were being nonchalant about showing off – thus making you look even more like a show off.


And admitting to it made you look arrogant. It was like saying “I am showing off. And what of it?”


There was even the schoolmate version. If your mates ever needed to bring you down a peg or two they could accuse you of fancying someone – the least appealing the better because whatever you said just made things worse.



It’s the golden ticket of controlling behaviour – I just wish there was an adult equivalent.

The telephone voice

The majority of people I have spoken to in the past few days will probably have forgotten the sound of my voice already.

It’s nothing personal – I don’t stutter, I don’t have a serious lisp and I don’t squeak. My voice is that of a bog standard man, with a Luton dialect and a spattering of slang.

But all bets are off if you call me in the office.

People who have spoken to me on my work number would certainly remember my high-pitched, overly-eloquent, trying-to-sound-important-but-failing tones.

Anyone who wants evidence of this need only call the office after 6pm to behold my business answerphone message in all its glory.

Admittedly, at first I thought it was just me. Then I was able to listen closely to my colleagues and knew I was in good company.

Even my contacts at other companies do it.

One lady I met sounded like Kathy Burke when I met her face-to-face, which was particularly funny as I mistook her for Joanna Lumley when she phoned me the day before.

But what is the reason for the plummy, over the top, wordy way of speaking to business contacts when most people talk to their mates they are just their usual foul-mouthed, inarticulate selves?

What is it about the office phone that turns Len Goodman into Stephen Fry?

Is it a need to feel comfortable among colleagues and contacts? Is it to impress others? Or do we all secretly want to sound posh. And do posh sounding people use more slang and drop their ‘t’s when speaking on the office phone?

My conclusion is that I don’t know. It’s a complete mystery to me.

All I know is that it won’t stop!

Black to the future

I can’t help looking at the escapades of Doc and Marty with great envy.

Ok, so I haven’t yet invented the flux capacitor and I haven’t figured out how to generate 1.2 giggawatts of power but my attempts at time travel have been doomed to failure since the day I was born.

I would like a go at surfing the time continuium but as a black man the chances of me enjoying a flying DeLorean are slim.

I reckon I, and most other ethnic people, would enjoy the future – especially with Barack Obama around to shape it.

But how would we fare in the past?

McFly was able to go back 1885 and 1985 relatively unfettered. Granted, his modern clothes looked stupid but that would be the least of my problems.

The 16th to the 19th centuries are out immediately, as is the American Deep South during most of the 20th century (to be fair I wouldn’t visit during the present day) and I would stick out a mile as a serf in feudal England.

I don’t often feel the need to issue advice but if I was ever asked I would respond as follows: always be polite, treasure your friends and never, under any circumstances, travel faster than 88 mph.

The results may not be as exciting as they seem.