Monday, March 28, 2016

Do You Speak "Spinglish"?

Ever heard of "Spinglish"?

It's a term used to describe the jargon often used to conceal the real meaning of what is happening. For example, companies don't lay off workers. They "rightsize" the organization or there is a "synery-related headcount restructuring."

Even workers do it. Instead of goofing off at work, you're "zero-tasking."

These are a few of the examples in the new "Spinglish: The Definitive Dictionary of Deliberately Deceptive Language," by Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf.

In this book by the former National Lampoon writers, it's clear that instead of our communications getting better on the job, they're getting worse. Some of this is because we're inspired -- for better or for worse -- by politicians who have become adept as "spinning" their opinions. (The authors point out that Spinglish been around since Julius Caesar's time.)

Bosses have used the art of the spin many times in the last several years, especially when it comes to dealing with tough issues. For example, when the boss offers you a "career-change opportunity," it might make him feel better -- but you're still fired. Or when a job is advertised as a "canine control officer" -- it's still a dogcatcher. A "customer solution specialist" is really an ad for a salesperson.

We're all guilty of using "Spinglish" and I think it's only going to get worse unless we make a real effort to stop saying things are "linear" or "front-loading" or that we've had an "incomplete success." We often fall into these traps because we're not really clear about what they mean -- and neither is anyone else. (That's enough to buy us some time to goof around on Facebook or post what we had for lunch on Instagram!)

Think about breaking the habit today. If you can't write or talk clearly enough that an eight-grader can understand you, then that means you need to make some changes.

What are some "Spinglish" terms you've used or come across?

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