A definition of ‘Suit speak’ and how to avoid it

 In Delivery

“Words use by corporate heavies or upper management ‘Suits’ to confuse, convince, intimidate, or otherwise baffle an office drone or associate into compliance.” This is the opening sentence defining the term ‘Suit Speak’ from an entry in the Urban Dictionary. The entire definition can be accessed through the following link: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Suit%20Speak.

‘Suit Speak’ is a variant of ‘Management Speak’. While you want to avoid ‘Suit Speak’ and ‘Management Speak’ a more difficult navigation in the business environment is how to handle and respond to jargon words and phrases used among the ‘in-crowd’ at a meeting.

A client recently asked for my advice on this. He asked should he start to use a specific ‘in-phrase’ that was being bandied about in a top level meeting. (He was junior to people in the room).

My suggestions were these:

–          Ask what the phrase means. Now this risks push-back if someone in the meeting believes you should know the term. However, more often, your inquiry about the phrase will help other people understand the term.

–          Don’t use the phrase as a device to position yourself as one of the ‘in-crowd’.

–          Use the phrase when you understand it and everyone else in a meeting does too. (That is, don’t use it to exclude people who might not understand the phrase).

–          Overall, speak plainly and omit needless words.

The ‘how to apply’ for the post: Listen for ‘Suit Speak’ in your spoken messages over the next seven days and eliminate if from your speech if heard. Use jargon as a short-cut for people who know the word/phrase/acronym. Explain the jargon to those present who might not understand it.


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