Park Your Darling
As I’m writing this i’m employed by Spectrum Multimedia & IT, a company who’s purpose it is to improve the lives and future of people who are diagnosed with ASS and are working towards work or education in IT and multimedia design (for the most part) despite them being on the autistic spectrum. With my expertise in design I’m tasked with guiding those hopefuls using my own experiences and knowledge. Honorable work I think. Last week I was sitting down with one of our clients and we were taking about his progress, dreams, inspiration and his workflow. Seeing as he sometimes has trouble focussing and deciding which concept to work with, I mentioned a phrase I came across more than once during my college years; “Kill your darling”.
Talking to one of my colleagues not long after, he mentioned that this might be something that could potentially scare our clients, not as much the meaning (after all, it’s a very functional and very helpful tool) but more the phrasing of it all. This made me wonder how many of these phrases there are and why we collectively decided to use almost fatal sounding words in our professional communication. Why not “Park your darling”? Why still use the word “deadline”? What about other forms of professional communication and especially the wording directed towards (potential) employees?
Especially in the corporate and creative world it’s common to use big words and phrases that sound intimidating or impressive while in fact there’s way easier and less overblown and friendlier ways to use language in a professional setting. Especially in an office environment it’s standard to use corporate lingo and to oversell anything you wish to tell the other simply by means of overstating what you’re actually trying to communicate.
I grew up, live and work in The Netherlands. Therefore Dutch is my native tongue and the language used in most places I worked at. Though i’m more than proficient in English I struggle with the use of the English language in a corporate environment. Not that I don’t understand the meaning of the words, that’s not the issue. I’m more concerned with how incredibly self-aggrandizing and bloated it is. At work we use a few elements of the world famous SCRUM method for example to help and prepare clients with personal and professional skills. So far so good. But why do these terms need to sound so high-strung and convoluted for the sake of sounding important?
“There’s so many easier and less self-centered ways to get to your goal without sounding like an absolute tool.”
Sometimes it seems like phrasing and choice of words are a mere vehicle for sales and marketing, like a diploma hanging from a wall for knowing how to tie your own shoes. It’s cannon fodder for middle-management to sound important and to make sure they have added value because they know the meaning behind these terms really. Why the “Daily Stand-up” if you just want a simple 5 minute update? Why the “sprint review” when you just want a short one-on-one conversation about progress. There’s so many easier and less self-centered ways to get to your goal without sounding like an absolute tool.
And it’s not even just internal and in corporate settings as well. I’ve often expressed my frustration with job vacancies and the advertising that comes with it when it comes down to using language. In Dutch we have even coined a term for it; “Jeukwoord”, which basically translate to words that make you itch. And it does. I can’t for the life of me understand why creators of job advertisements think it’s good form or a great sales tactic to try and introduce new words and contractions, abbreviations and more just to look hip or hop or whatever. It’s employment, be honest about it.
HIGH-END POLISH MANAGER
Honesty is an important word, not just in this but in general. Especially if you’re looking to create trust, between yourself and your team of employees, co-workers amongst each other, but also when looking for new employees if anything. How often I haven’t searched the big world wide web for interesting and fulfilling positions within a company when I got tired of freelancing and was met with a slew of over the top adjectives that, if anything, made the writer sound incredibly self-aware and even desperate for attention at times. Shouldn’t the position and company itself be the reason why as an employee you’d want to work there?
“Are you someone selling knockoff ritual minerals for way too high a price? ‘Spiritual guidance coach’ is the choice for you”
Often it is to hide the negatives or potential connotations that a position might have. Do you need someone to wash dishes? Why not call them “high-end polish manager”. You need someone who wants to push papers without any chance of growth or chance for a very lousy salary? Go for “document & administration manager”. Or even when you’re an actual business owner yourself it can be used; Are you someone selling knockoff ritual minerals for way too high a price? “Spiritual guidance coach” is the choice for you. I can list a million different job titles that basically say f%#! all.
To end this on a higher note, I’d say just be honest. I said it before in this very article; Honesty is key. That goes both ways too, if a future employee applies for a job it will always partly be because they need the damn money. Everyone does, so why put a taboo on that. Other way around it’s equally easy to mention that the job might not be great but it pays well for what you do, the team is cool, you get to enjoy great secondary benefits and more of that. Always acknowledge the negatives, highlight the positives but please, for the love of god, don’t exaggerate them. Blowing your own horn too much and using bombastic lingo will always make you look like an absolute fool in the end.