Unless you want an HR complaint, please don’t ‘REACH OUT’ to me

In the hyper paced world of business and PR, I’m thinking of communicating by emoji in the hope that I don’t get sucked into the trap of using ridiculous phrases like ‘Reaching Out’. What is it, where did it come from, what does it mean and when did it become so commonplace? It screams of desperation, of someone (you’ve never even met) with arms stretched out in the hope someone will receive them, listen to them, engage with them and respond to them.

I think I receive at least four unsolicited emails each day that not only start with ‘Hello, How are you?’ (hmm bit too overfamiliar as I don’t know you, I know you’re trying to be friendly but it’s just irritating), ‘my name is xxx’ (thanks but your name was already in the ‘from’ line of the email), and then they launch into the dreaded ‘I’m reaching out to you’. Please can I consign the expression to Room 101 along with ‘Touching Base’ – both of which made it onto the Forbes’ list of ‘Most Annoying Business Jargon’.

Whist I’m on my soapbox (wrong too) of language that’s bordering on the ludicrous, a quick poll around Cirkle HQ revealed the top 5 offenders – not necessarily pure PR jargon, but expressions used in everyday speak …

1. ‘Low hanging fruit’ (I just see figs hanging off branches)
2. ‘At the end of the day’ (please only use this if something is occurring bang on 6pm)
3. ‘Joining the dots’ (which dots are they?)
4. I want your buy-in’ (which translated means ‘I have an idea, I didn’t involve you because I didn’t value you enough to discuss it with you. I want you to embrace it as if you were in on it from the beginning.’ Similar really to that old chestnut ‘With respect’ which actually means ‘I can get away with insulting you by actually showing no respect at all if I just start my sentence this way.’)
5. And making the joint no. 5 position are those phrases that need no explanation ‘blue sky thinking’ that’s ‘outside the box’

What I do love is the intelligence of global trend predictors The Future Laboratory who cleverly mash up words to make new ones – gems include ‘Stuffocation’ (we’re being suffocated by too much ‘stuff’ in our lives); Bleisure (merging business and leisure – applies to employee engagement and flexible/agile working); Brandstanding (defining what a brand actually stands for how this is translated throughout its DNA); Womenomics (the power of women economically).

I also love the ‘be bold, be bright, be gone’ approach to language and communications – ‘say what you mean’ and ‘mean what you say’ – hence too, the brevity of this blog!

Rikki Weir

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