The war on jargon: For best results, use a scalpel, not an ax

Communicators advise weaning executives off buzzwords through viable alternatives, not reproaches.

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which a CEO returns from a big meeting or has just read an article about the latest business trend and wants to issue a big, companywide e-mail about it, using all the buzzwords he or she has just taken in.

Of course you, as a communicator, must figure out a way to make that e-mail make sense to all the employees who didn’t attend that meeting or read that article.

The best way to do that, communications experts say, is gently.

“You can’t force people to do something that they don’t want to do,” says Sean Williams of Communication AMMO.

The key is to help the executive use clearer language through discussion rather than simply asserting, “That’s wrong.”

“You have to pick your battles,” Williams says. “You have to choose the right time to try to help someone be more clear.”

Questions, not corrections

If an executive has loaded an e-mail or a memo with corporate-speak and you feel compelled to change it, think like a consultant, Williams says. “You have to go at this from the standpoint of asking them the right questions that lead to clearer language.”

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