Last week while commuting into the city, I saw an ad on the train that caught my attention. The ad was for Harvard Business School and the prominent text proclaimed:

“Learn to speak the language of business.”

This one really bothers me. As far as I can tell, the “language” of business adds no value whatsoever to the economy. The fact that people conduct business by speaking in obtuse jargon primarily serves as a way to discriminate against those who do not have access to top tier education.  It’s about being in a club – pure and simple.

What’s more: in my experience the very smartest people never hide behind business jargon. They find it useless – so they don’t use it. It’s the middle-bottom performers who coat everything they say in a thin veneer business language.

Best practices, core competency, key results, etc. etc. Forbes has a list of the 46 most annoying business jargon – and there’s even this video where you can hear them live.

So what is Harvard really selling here? The ability to sound like you fit in, without providing any actual value?

Speak plainly and say what you mean.  Don’t hide behind business jargon and when you see people doing it, rebel against it.

The Language of Business
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