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Corporate Jargon

By Edited May 3, 2015 0 0

Many industries, and even individual companies, develop their own languages. Sometimes, this is a play to keep others from understanding company secrets or to help insiders feel important. In other instances, it develops a response to a need for special items or activities. The development of a company slang can have both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, it may help employees feel like part of a well-defined culture.
Everyone likes to feel he or she is on the inside of a group, and corporate slang can contribute to that feeling very quickly. More importantly, an internal language can also lead to more efficiency - if the jargon has developed so that, say 2 words take the place of 20 and are more specific at the same time.
Of course, a person very new at a position may find this practice tremendously frustrating, and some companies actually publish dictionaries of organizational slang to help initiate newcomers. However, the real meaning of a phrase can get lost if it undergoes too many variations or becomes couched in too many internal codes. When intra-company slang creeps into the telephone calls and conversations with people on the outside, communication can get quite complicated. Customers may have no idea what the person is trying to communicate. Worse, he or she may be offended by the use of a special language.
To outsiders, jargon seems like an attempt to keep them on the outside rather than an effort to resolve a problem or accomplish a goal. Employees of one company trying to communicate with employees of another company can get hopelessly confused if the languages do not coincide. It can almost be as if a French person and a Chinese person were trying to hold a conversation in their native tongues. An external consultant coming into a firm may have to spend days just trying to understand what the problem is before trying to resolve it.
Corporate slang usually develops in companies rich in history or occupying a unique position in their industry. Walt Disney, for example, is almost as famous for having such internal lingo as "good" and "bad" Mickey as for the images it creates. It is often comfortable - and efficient - nice to be able to communicate with co-workers in a special way, but employees should be aware that not everyone they meet will neither be able to speak their language nor be expected to.

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