Human Beings, in a generic sense, are very good absorbers. Our subconscious mind, more often than not, is a clear reflection and reiteration of the immediate environment. Funnel the connotation ‘human beings’ into ‘professionals’, and the results cannot be clearer. It is said that people shape organizations. However, on thinking a bit further, the converse also seems to be true.
Our language too isn’t an exception. The organizations where we work, our co-workers, and their way of expression also affects our vocabulary and usage of words somewhere down the line. To channelize the discussion, let us draw two very broad lines, just for the purpose of academic study. Big 4 firms and the not-so-Big-4 firms (read as ‘small and mid-size firms’).
“The client is beating about the bush!” in a Big 4 environment, approximates to “Client goli de raha hai!” in a smaller firm. “Block my diary for day after tomorrow” amounts to “I do not want to do this now!” Furthermore, “claim your calm” would be spoken as “Thoda thanda le!” in a smaller firm. “Please help us expedite the processes” is the sophisticated equivalent of “Bro, you have taken too much time for this!” To add to this, “Let me sleep over the issue” is a euphemism to “I am exhausted for today, will see this tomorrow.”
As professionals, we are often taught to use ‘refined’ words, and fine-tune our language to suit the work we undertake. However, the beauty about communication is that there can never be complete standardization. At the very maximum, there can be best practices. The primary purpose of language is to make the opposite party understand what we want to convey. The romance of language lies in the variety it offers. An array of words get thrown in the vicinity of our work-desks every single day.
A colleague once mentioned to me how her “Please find the file attached herewith” e-mail received a witty one-word reply from the client. The client’s reply was alarmingly simple – “Found”! The client, perhaps, was trying to be humorous, or was simply bored of reading the oft-used jargon of delivering attachments in emails. The client’s reply was thought-provoking though. Why on earth do we write ‘find’ my attachment? Have we run short of the rat-cheese newspaper puzzles? Or are we simply missing the childhood hide-and-seek games so much that we wish to incorporate some fun in our sent-boxes? I guess we need to sleep over this issue.
Being updated, dressing well and behaving decently are not the only check-boxes we need to tick to appear ‘professional’ in the modern workplace. Our being professional is directly related to our ability to use jargon. You are moderately professional if ‘you are working on it’. However, you are highly professional if ‘it’s on your plate’. To be professional, the project shouldn’t be ‘easy’; it should be a ‘low hanging fruit’ instead. You must never ‘respond’, you must always ‘get back’.
However, change is the oldest governing law, and it encompasses everyone and everything. The corporate world is slowly but surely waking up to the ground realities, and realizing that open, direct and frank conversations are very often the best ones. Business, thankfully, is becoming casual. Words like ‘Hi’, ‘Cool’, ‘Bingo’, and ‘Happy Weekend’ are making their presence felt in e-mails.
The perception of jargon is slowly changing from the trick of the trade to a poor line of defence against lack of skills.
Clarity is the new buzz-word. So, is it time to bid adieu to jargons? Maybe, we need to dive deeper!
(Author Urvish Mehta is an articled assistant at KNAV & Co. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)