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Monday, August 26, 2013


The Way WE Work is a Monday morning audio blog from yours truly that offers an encouraging look at the world of work.

A Forbes Magazine article a while back revealed the most annoying, pretentious, and useless business jargon of our modern times. Jennifer Chatman is a management professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She claims, “Jargon masks real meaning. People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction they want to give others.”

Here are some of those annoying words and phrases: Core Competency. Buy-In. SWOT Team. Empower. Bleeding edge. (You know, when you are BEYOND cutting edge.) Add to these … Lots of moving parts.  Best practice. Think outside the box. Over the wall. Take it to the next level.  And the mathematicians' all time favorite … giving 110%. Like that’s possible.

And be not mistaken! It isn’t just the higher ups using the gobbledygook. (I love that word.) It’s the rank and file. You know, average Joes like you and me. If you need to 'fess up on business gobbledygook, do it now. It will be good for your soul.

But wait! There’s more! More gobbledygook from … Christians. It’s called Christianese. We have our own special language that can scare people off. Or at least cause them serious concern about what planet we’re from. 

Urban Dictionary actually gives multiple definitions for Christianese:  Christianese is the language spoken by Christians. It makes no sense to anyone unfamiliar with biblical texts, but earns you major points in the eyes of other Christians, because it means your words are holy. Words or phrases like old man/new man, unblemished lamb, sanctified, washed in the blood

You get the picture.

In business, and in the Christian life, we can build and reinforce subculture by creating buzz language. It weakens our message. We actually lose in communicating with others. And, I can’t resist, too many are drinking the Koolaid.

Proverbs, the great book of sentence sermons, doesn’t use buzz talk.  But it will sure get your attention. Try some of those thoughts on others. In contemporary language. Proverbs 10 has some good ones. One paraphrase gave us this gem: “Don’t talk so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the flow.” (Proverbs 10:20, 21 Living Bible) Good advice for many a meeting.

If we can avoid the trap of any kinds of language-ese, who knows what kind of silos we can take down. Oh man. Wow. I did it.

What Christianese are you using? What Christianese do others use that really bugs you? I'd like to read your comments.

That’s the way WE work.  For Moody Radio, I’m Mark Elfstrand.

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