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What if people always spoke the way they do at work?

I’ve noticed in many business meetings, and especially presentations, people use highly stilted, quasi-academic language. They may have useful things to say, and a pleasant, cultured voice to say them with, but the language leads me to wonder why people think they have to sound academic at work, and whether they would speak that way normally in any other context.

I mean, if they think it makes them sound smart at work, wouldn’t they want to sound smart all the time? Who wouldn’t, right?

To improve our outcomes, we can “leverage our existing Agile framework.” Huh? I’m pretty sure I recognize the individual words, there. But when they are strung together in that order, what does it mean?

To reduce handoffs, teams can “leverage organic communication.” Hmm. Methane is an organic compound. Could he have meant…surely not.

How does he speak at home? Does he use…sorry: leverage…organic communication?

Leverage, leverage, leverage. <sigh/>

Dad: Johnny, this afternoon your designated parenting team had the opportunity to participate in a joint off-site networking event in collaboration with your primary teaching resource. The event was largely constructive, but some of the messaging that was forthcoming raised some concerns. The teaching resource indicated that certain learning units within her scope of responsibility may not be fully leveraging the homework opportunities available to them. Sadly, the aforementioned learning units include one who is present here, seated at the furniture unit designated for taking the evening meal, and who is presently engaged in failing to consume his green vegetables. Naturally, we are concerned that he may not achieve all his performance objectives for the present assessment period. We are hopeful, and confident, that the learning unit can provide some background information to level-set us regarding the situation, as well as an improvement plan with concrete milestones and measurements to track progress.

Johnny: I understand your concerns, and I think it goes without saying that we all share them. To take full advantage of available homework opportunities is a critical success factor. It is one of the KPIs we are tracking to ensure we achieve our OKRs, particularly the potential to advance into the fifth grade on a timely basis. I can have my people undertake a review to determine the potential root causes of the issue. Bear in mind they have a lot on their plates and are bandwidth-constrained. I may be able to provide feedback in, say, four to five weeks, depending on unexpected issues that may arise in the interim.

Dad: We appreciate your willingness to investigate the issue, but unfortunately we are operating under some time constraints we don’t control. There’s a hard due date coming up on the next business day. We need a response no later than that date.

Johnny: <bodilyFunction=”fart”/>

Customer: Good afternoon.

Store clerk: Good afternoon. How are you?

Customer: I am well, as are my relatives, friends, acquaintences, colleagues, and business contacts. And yourself?

Store clerk: I, too, am well, as are my relatives, friends, acquaintences, colleagues, and business contacts.

Customer: I am gratified to hear it.

Store clerk: Thank you. How may I help you today?

Customer: I thought perhaps it would be best if we went around the room and introduced ourselves one by one before diving into the agenda. Let’s have each person state their name and role, a little about their background, and then we can have an icebreaker. Let’s see…why don’t, um…you start. Yes, the woman in the front. Thank you.

Store clerk: Certainly. My name is Grace, and I have been working at the store for the past six months. My role is to deliver customer value and to delight the customer. I have assisted many satisfied customers in selecting human-wearable textile products to support their personal and professional goals and objectives.

Customer: Hello, Grace. My name is Susan, and I have been involved in the educational institution down the street for the past three years. My role is to absorb and internalize the wisdom of the elders, to establish lifelong relationships that will serve me well in my future endeavors, and to practice the art of social intercourse.

Store clerk: Social what?

Customer: Interaction.

Store clerk: It is good to meet you, Susan. Thank you for clarifying your role.

Customer: My pleasure. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to clarify it. And now for the icebreaker.

Store clerk: Is it mandatory?

Customer: I’m afraid so, yes. It is part of the process.

Store clerk: <vocalTone=”sotto-voce”> Oh, excrement!</vocalTone>

Customer: I will tell two truths and one lie. Your assignment is to identify the lie. Do you understand the procedure?

Store clerk: I am not sure. Do you have a PowerPoint?

Customer: Of course.

[after the presentation]

Customer: Do you understand the procedure now?

Store clerk: I think so.

Customer: Excellent! Here are my three statements: A duck floats on water. My favorite cheese is Cheddar. My father is the dark lord Chthulhu. One of those statements is untrue. Your task is to identify which statement it is.

Store clerk: I was not expecting a challenge of this scope at the outset of the exercise.

Customer: One can only be expected to expend one’s best effort. There is no judgment here. The purpose is to induce relaxation and trust, so that the subsequent discussion can be productive and transparent.

Store clerk: Very well. In that case…number two…no, wait, not number two. It’s one of the others, I think.

Customer: That is close enough. Please share two truths and one lie. It is for the purpose of relaxation and trust. Do it now!

Store clerk: I…I’m nervous.

Customer: There is no judgment here. You should be aware of that. The information was covered adequately in the introductory presentation. It was reiterated on slides 37, 152, and 306.

Store clerk: Very well…um…a duck floats on water.

Customer: No! That is unacceptable! It was already used by another participant. Choose a unique statement.

Store clerk: I just peed myself.

Customer: And?

Store clerk: And what?

Customer: What are the other two statements?

Store clerk: I wish you would leave. I regret taking this job.

Customer: Hmm. All three sound true to me.

Store clerk: That is correct. Let us proceed with the agenda.

Customer: Very well. As you are no doubt aware, the nearby educational institution has established an annually-recurring on-site event that calls for attire at a certain level of formality.

Store clerk: Ah, yes. The Promenade. We were briefed.

Customer: Good! Then you will be familiar with the general parameters.

Store clerk: Of course. You require a suitable human-wearable textile product to wear when attending the event. It must demonstrate your superiority to your peers, while also exhibiting you in a manner inappropriate to your age cohort.

Customer: Exactly. The plan going forward calls for me to leverage your expertise in selecting an appropriate item.

Store clerk: It is possible that we can leverage my expertise in the area of textiles and human wearables to help you secure an appropriate item.

Customer: That is in line with the preliminary action plan, as of the current date.

Store clerk: Do we have consensus that we have accurately elaborated the ask?

Customer: We have achieved a confluence of synergistic pleonasms.

Store clerk: Then the next item on the agenda is the spend.

Customer: The dark lord Chthulhu has authorized a spend of $300. Should the exchange amount for the selected textile item exceed that level, an additional budget request will be required. The dark lord tends to react negatively to such requests.

Store clerk: Do you mean to say…?

Customer: That is correct. My favorite cheese is not Cheddar.