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How Not to Speak Like an Idiot

Michael’s post today on business-speak (that’s “BS” for short) is especially timely. The upcoming book, Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, made our December Fast Forward list of 101 ideas, people and trends that will shape the biz world this year. Part humor, part service, WBPSLI is brought to us by three former Deloitte Consulting execs and hits shelves in about six weeks.

Michael’s post today on business-speak (that’s “BS” for short) is especially timely. The upcoming book, Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, made our December Fast Forward list of 101 ideas, people and trends that will shape the biz world this year. Part humor, part service, WBPSLI is brought to us by three former Deloitte Consulting execs and hits shelves in about six weeks. Here are four quick points on how to be a straight shooter, cribbed from Amazon.com’s preview.

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  • The Obscurity Trap: “After extensive analysis of the economic factors facing our industry, we have concluded that a restructuring is essential to maintaining competitive position. A task force has been assembled…” These are the empty calories of business communication. And, unfortunately, they’re the rule. The Obscurity Trap catches idiots desperate to sound smart or prove their purpose, and lures them with message-killers like jargon, long-windedness, acronyms, and evasiveness.

  • The Anonymity Trap: Businesses love clones–easy to hire, easy to manage, easy to train, easy to replace–and almost everyone is all too happy to oblige. We outsource our voice through templates, speechwriters and email, and cave in to conventions that aren’t really even rules.
  • The Hard-Sell Trap: Legions of business people fall prey to the Hard-Sell Trap. We overpromise. We accentuate the positive and pretend the negative doesn’t exist. This may work for those pushing Ginsu knives and miracle Abdominizers, but it’s dead wrong for persuading business people to listen.
  • The Tedium Trap: Everyone you work with thinks about sex, tells stories, gets caught up in life’s amazing details, and judges everyone else by the way they look and act. We live to be entertained. We all learned that in Psychology 101, except for the business idiots who must have skipped that semester. They tattoo their long executive-sounding titles on their foreheads, dump pre-packaged numbers on their audience, and virtually guarantee that we want nothing to do with them.
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