Corporate Speak

‘Circling back’, ‘time sensitive’, ‘under review’, ‘suggested course of action’ and ‘sun setting’ are all examples of Corporate Speak, a language you ought to know already or swiftly adopt if not. In fact, I wonder why there isn’t a Corporate Speak option in those drop down lists that allow us to rate our language skills as elementary, intermediate or native.

After all, Corporate Speak is a language in itself. How often do we really sign off personal messages with ‘kind regards’? Not very often. On the one hand, it’s perfectly logical that in a professional environment, our lingo will most definitely be different to how we speak in social circles. Then again, it can feel a tad schizophrenic to become another person by changing our language the moment we walk into a corporate environment.

Over the years I have observed that while Corporate Speak comes naturally to some, it is an acquired skill for others. My take on this is simple – you don’t have to like it especially if it doesn’t sit with how you speak naturally, but sooner or later it will become necessary to be aware of who you are speaking to, the platform you are using to communicate, local cultural sensitivities and equally important, the language your company speaks.

If ‘what’s up’ is the norm at a young gaming studio, it can be perfectly OK to adopt this lingo and make it your own especially if it helps to connect with your peers. If ‘good morning’ and ‘lovely to see you’ are common practice among senior health and safety auditors, you probably don’t want to open with a casual ‘hey’. As the recent BBC post The secret language you speak without realizing it said with reference to tech jargon, “you need to speak the language to play the game”.

Similarly, if you’re addressing an executive, please oh please don’t be casual unless you know the executive for a sufficient period of time, trust has been established through your professional relationship or s/he has specifically asked you to tone down the formalities.

Can it be exhausting to speak with a filter all day long? Sometimes. Is it necessary? This is where it’s important to consider your audience. Is it a customer, a business partner, a line manager or a peer/lunch buddy? Which industry are you working in? In an ideal situation, you want to be yourself while maintaining a degree of professionalism. Whatever you choose and irrespective of the demands of a given situation, I would suggest being genuine in your correspondences. Insincerity translates instantly and knows no filter.

Kind regards,


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