6/16/2008

Corporate Survival Guide: The Art of iculation

As explained in an earlier article, communication is the most important activity in the corporate battlefield, apart from constantly sucking up. Your ability to communicate clearly and effectively will determine how fast and high you will rise in the ranks as well as whether the waiter at lunch brings you what you thought you asked for.

Many people talk about communication skills. There are books on the subject, and videos, and seminars, and entire university majors and departments founded on it. But none of these sources covers the basic element that is so critical to the corporation: using big words. It is not good enough to "speak clearly." Instead, you want to "articulate effectively." After all, does anyone in a corporation ever "go pee?" Hardly. Instead, people "will return momentarily," probably with moist hands and suspect spots on their slacks.

You will often have to resort to big words and phrases that others use, but ideally you will invent unique words and phrases of your own. You will know that you have been successful when you hear these same words and phrases repeated by others. They are not doing it out of respect or because it's the best choice of words in a situation, but rather because they didn't understand what you said and thought they should. This is exactly the result you are aiming for. If people understand you then they will also understand how little you know. But if you can confuse them with words and get them to just believe you because it's easier than admitting they have no idea what you're talking about, you win. This is the general strategy of CEOs and politicians the world over.

Because this skill is so important, I'd like to spend this article reviewing some new words that you can use. At the same time, you should see if you can try to invent words of your own:

Rationalitation: This could mean an active form of rationalization, or trying to actively justify something. This is actually a common occurrence in management circles today, with most meetings consisting entirely of fervent rationalitation as everyone tries to blame everyone else in the room and then, in an attempt to compromise and break for lunch, blame groups and people not present at the meeting.
Usage: "It seems that some people here [look around the meeting room pointedly at this point] engage in a policy of rationalitation, while others, like me, enjoy a fluid energizing of pursuance."

Cooperzing: This word could be used to describe the effort of getting partners to work with you. Or converting slums to condos.
Usage: "I'm in the process of cooperizing both our partners and those who work with us."

Tentinaciousness: This word imparts a state of being actively tenuous.
Usage: "I encouraged my group to proactively pursue an attitude of prudent tentinaciousness."

Fractionaligurgitation: This word could mean something about an adverse reaction to market segmenting. Or a fourth-grader's reaction to a math worksheet.
Usage: "As you can visualize on the present slide, market factors are causing widespread fractionaligurgitation in our Eurpoean market."

FRTD: While words are important, acronyms are sometimes even better. They combine the advantages of an incomprehensible word with a quick delivery. And nobody will ever call you on an acronym, because they assume that it's something they should know and they don't want to call attention to their knowledge gap. Generally aim for four-letter acronyms to avoid mistakenly choosing an existing three-letter acronym. Also, that extra letter will impress your audience all the more.
Usage: "Did you see the FRTD report? Unbelievable numbers!"

Remember, success in business is not based on what you know, or whether you know more than the other guy, but rather on the fear by that guy that you know more. Communication is a weapon in the war of words. The bigger and more confusing that weapon is, the more afraid your foe will be.
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