When I was 16, young, innocent and naïve in the early days of my professional career in NHS management, I thought those highly paid managers must be very clever.
I heard them at meetings producing long, complicated words that seemed impressive. They spoke a complex language that I didn’t understand. I was young and felt intimidated about confessing my ignorance of some of the language. As a result I found myself trying to look ‘smart’ too. Maybe I’m the only person in the world of management who has ever done that ….. I think not.
Forty years later I’m older, still (fairly) innocent and not quite so naïve. Most of all I’m a bit more experienced of life and work. I can now confidently say that most of that mysterious language I used to think was clever and smart is in fact a false ‘barrier’ put up by many managers. This barrier is designed to confuse those folks who are not managers.
Let’s be honest, we all do it – whatever our job, trade or profession. We invent our own language and then we ‘talk it’ inside our own tent with our peers. This means we mere ‘average’ folks can’t get inside that tent.
As I got older and more experienced in my NHS career I found it much easier to actually stop people in mid-sentence of their latest diatribe and ask them to speak a language that I understand. I know that’s not necessarily easy for some people to do. It’s pretty natural to want to be part of the crowd - inside the tent with peers. It can feel a bit scary and can make us feel a bit alone and vulnerable if we have what is perceived as the temerity to challenge the credibility of ‘acceptable’ language.
What I’m saying is that if someone is talking bullshit then we might as well tell them it’s bullshit … in a nice way of course. If we allow it to go unchecked we become part of the ‘conspiracy to confuse.’
So ….. I’m up for challenging the pretentiousness of managers who persist in speaking bullshit.. Is anyone else in my tent?
I’d love to hear from you about some of the language you have heard from managers who are programmed to confuse ordinary folks like me.
When it comes to language – keep it simple.