AI · Jargon · Language · Tone of voice · Voicetech

Study: Leaders use jargon when business is failing

An oldie but a goodie.

A couple of year’s ago, an AI solution by S&P Market Intelligence began to predict trading markets based on the jargon used by business leaders.

It found leaders speaking in complicated, long-winded and polysyllabic language tended to precede stock declines.

“When it’s good news, people tend to say it directly. When they have bad news, they tend to dance around it,” said David Pople, Head of Quantamental Research at S&P.

What does your language or the language your organisation uses reveal about you? And if this was a couple of years ago, I’d love to know where this tech has got to today.

Here’s the full article in the Financial Times (paywall).

Behavioural science · Jargon · Tone of voice

How CrossFit reminded me about language

Last night I went to CrossFit for the first time. Free trial.

Before you ask, I’m fine. I’m not writing this from a hospital bed or anything. But whilst I was there it made me think about language and the way we use words at work.

When I arrived at this big warehouse – sun shining, lots of sweaty people – I talked to the person on reception and they said I could put my jumper and coat in the “Mezz”, and then hang there until the workout.

We then headed to the “Box”, before going over the “WOD”. We then smashed the “Wall Balls” and the “SQs” with “AMRAP” within eight minutes.

Are you still with me after all that gobbledygook?

See, the thing it reminded me of is that people love jargon.

As Harvard Professor and popular author Stephen Pinker says: “Jargon is a tribal thing. Jargon is a sociolect we’ve adopted amongst our colleagues. It’s a sense of being in a team.

“But, people who aren’t in the team feel left out.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. The people at CrossFit Nottingham were great at explaining all the lingo and the jargon.

Like most teams I’ve worked with at work, they were passionate about what they do. There was a sense of community and camaraderie there.

And they took the time to explain the jargon, to make me feel welcome.

What’s your equivalent to a WOD?

So, when you’re next communicating with the people in your team, think about your equivalents to a WOD (Workout of the day) or a SQ (Squat).

You might be using language like “synergies”. You might be “underpinning” a few things. (I won’t go on.) But think about how it feels to others. How does it feel to your readers and listeners? Are you explaining it? Do people understand you?

As humans, we’re socially conditioned to love jargon. To love feeling like we’re part of a team. But be aware of when and where you use it. And especially who you’re talking to.