Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter's Guide Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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"This is a funny, entertaining, readable book about a serious, important, undervalued issue: communication. The way business people talk to each other -- and to the rest of us -- is often inauthentic, deceptive, opaque, and trivial. If you're us, this book will help you decode what they're talking about. If you're them, it will help you find a better, more effective way to get your message across."
-- Tony Schwartz, bestselling coauthor of The Power of Full Engagement and president of The Energy Project
"Why Business People Speak Like Idiots...is one of the surprising ideas and trends that will change the way we work and live in 2005."
-- Fast Company
"There are two reasons why business people refuse to speak in a way the rest of us can understand: fear and peer pressure. This book cuts through both excuses and makes it far more likely that work will actually get done. If you've ever written a memo, you need this book."
-- Seth Godin, bestselling author of Permission Marketing and Purple Cow
"Why Business People Speak Like Idiots follows its own advice. It's blunt, lively and chocablock with personality."
The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2005 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Brian Fugere is a recovering jargonaholic. After authoring some of the worst jargon the consulting world has ever seen, he formally admitted his problem and entered a twelve-step program. He is currently in rehab and has been jargon-clean for the last two years. He is a partner at Deloitte Consulting and was formerly its chief marketing officer. Brian lives in Danville, California, with his wife, Gail, and their four children.
Chelsea Hardaway is an authenticity nut. She can detect hogwash and spin from a country mile, and has spent her career helping companies trade in the usual corporate gibberish for more honest, human communications. She is the president of Hardaway Productions, a brand and communications consultancy that helps clients cut through the clutter. Previously, she was the global brand director at Deloitte Consulting. Chelsea lives in Half Moon Bay, California.
Jon Warshawsky, a former eighth-grade spelling champion, is a manager at Deloitte Consulting and helped start the firm's e-Learning practice. In 2000, he founded Cappuccino, a newsletter covering organizational change and learning. In 2002, Mr. Warshawsky returned to his roots as a grammar curmudgeon and led the development of Bullfighter, the software that quantified idiocy in the world of business writing. He lives in San Diego. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The irony is that business people speak like idiots because they want others to think they are intellectual giants. They throw in all kinds of big words, engage in self-congratulatory nonsense, faithfully adhere to CYA principles, and basically try to impress their audiences with their incredible intellect. They walk away from the podium feeling as if they really poured it on, while the audience walks out (after waking up) taking nothing the speaker said with them.
The authors identify four traps that cripple the effectiveness of business communication: the Obscurity Trap, the Anonymity Trap, the Hard-Sell Trap, and the Tedium Trap. They make very valid points about each one. Obscurity comes from the desire to show everyone how smart you are. Even the simplest concept must have the fanciest of names, and the result is mindless jargon, meaningless phrases, and an alphabet soup of acronyms. It's the ability to say nothing in as many words (especially big words) as possible. Anonymity seems to be bred within the corporate environment, making business people little more than invisible cogs in the great business machine. You're not supposed to think for yourself, do anything the slightest bit out of the ordinary, and heaven forbid you should actually have a personality and let even a tiny bit of it show in your work. The hard-sell is almost the equivalent of lying. This creates the used car salesmen of the business world. Ideas and proposals are promoted as if they were heavenly edicts; the product is nothing short of perfect, even better than perfect, and any potential or known problems are swept under the rug. People see through the hard-sell; if your business is on the brink of bankruptcy, a big speech about how well everyone is weathering the storm inspires only negative reactions. Tedium comes from an ingrained fear business people have of putting something of themselves into their presentations. Speakers tell audiences what they want to tell them; they don't consider what the audience itself wants or needs to hear, and in this PC world of today, people are so afraid of offending someone that they would rather drown their audiences in monotonous drivel than to inject anything spontaneous or remotely interesting into their speeches or writings.
I think it is true that the authors sometimes go a little too far in terms of their advice and suggestions, but their real point is delivered in a wonderfully effective manner. It all boils down to being yourself; you should be the same person at work that you are on the weekends. Put something of yourself in your work, allow for spontaneity and flexibility in your business speaking and writing, engage your audience by showing them you are actually a human being just like them, be honest about problems and take responsibility for identifying and correcting them, etc. The book is just chock full of extremely helpful advice, and I think anyone - not just professional-types - can benefit immensely from reading this entertaining, extremely helpful little book.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
English teachers with assault rifles. That's a movie scenario I could get behind!
Communication is a common buzzword in any business environment, but it means different things to different people. When a group of employees complains that communication from above is lacking, what they usually mean is that information isn't available in an easily accessible form. A typical report or batch of powerpoint slides full of meaningless, intentionally obscure, PC jargon doesn't solve that problem and can in fact be insulting to the more intelligent portion of the audience. Here the authors break corporate communication weaknesses down into four "traps": obscurity, anonymity, hard-sell and tedium. They suggest four ways to overcome these traps: storytelling, conversation, personality, and recreation. Some of the examples are eye-opening, such as a side by side comparison of an Enron memo and a Google memo, or a presentation given one week before the Columbia disaster which in hindsight might have saved the lives of the crew if anyone listening had been able to pull critically relevant safety information out of a messy, boring, repetitive slide.
It's no coincidence that the authors have a software program which will skim through your verbiage and pull out cliches or jargon for you, but they don't waste a lot of space in the book trying to sell it to you, for which I am grateful. My college genetics professor taught from his own textbook and I hated that feeling of a biased approach.
If you already have solid writing/speaking skills, the book is still a reasonable way to pass a rainy afternoon and might spark some ideas for your next presentation. Although I do believe that strong communicators are born, not made. You either have the innate talent for creativity and clarity, or you don't, and mediocre speakers or people who are lousy at getting their point across probably aren't going to get much out of this book or any other. Where I think this would have the most benefit is for young folks new to the business world who are not yet fallen into the trap of corporatespeak, or for good communicators too long exposed to the "dark side" who are struggling with finding ways to get out of the "four traps" and stand out from the crowd of faceless, dark-suited, templated drones. If the only way to get people to come to your meetings is by offering food, maybe this book is a worthy investment, but you're going to have to have at least the basic creativity skills needed to apply what you learn.
This is exactly what it feels like after reading this book. You won't be used any of the cool, meaningless terms or expressions after that. Plus you'll get a good laugh or at least a smile each time hear or read a presentation from one of these expensive consultants.
On the bright side it'll help you sharpen your communication skills by removing all the extraneous terms and expressions that are just meaningless.
A quick and insightful read, that should mandatory in the C-suite. This would make stupid corporate mission statement and empty corporate strategy presentations a thing of the past.
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