When to Feed the Gorilla

I get it. Some words, phrases and references get used so often they lose their meaning. Or worse: they  just sound disconnected. Just about every year we see results from surveys – like this one from American Express in 2017 – about the most overused business jargon or “buzzwords.” The article states that, in our best effort to sound intelligent, we actually sound senseless.

While many of these roundup reports hit mid-to-late year, this one from The Ladders was served up to me recently in a sponsored Facebook post. It reminded me that, while I often look forward to these fun findings, I also take slight issue with the broader message they send about limiting your communication. Here’s why:

Absolutely “optimize” your vocabulary.

People should never be ashamed for expanding their vocabulary and striving to sound smart. This is a good thing!

We definitely need more “blue sky” thinking.

Looking for new ways to say something basic is a sign of creativity. We should praise and celebrate these contributions to our business conversations.

Yes, let’s “feed that gorilla!”

Using analogies and metaphors is one of the best ways to get people on board with a message or idea. If you come up with a good one, of course it will catch on – this is what it was intended to do.

“At the end of the day,” the purpose of communicating is to connect with people. If you can achieve that with buzzwords, jargon and metaphors, do it! Just remember, your focus should be how the people you are speaking to want and need to be communicated with, and you will “knock it out of the park.”

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