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July 25, 2008


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A natural understanding of how communication is breaking down. For example, I was sitting in a benefits meeting at our facility in Weed, Calif. this morning and the benefits representative kept using acronyms and shortened versions of phrases that are not common to a timber worker. As a communicator, I believe my job is to kindly point out when communication is breaking down.

I am a communication expert because I read this great blog.

Eileen, that's a good one. Yes, let's add it to the list.

Ron, you embarrass me.

Holy shit. Did you see Mad Men last night. There's a scene in the season two opener when two of the Ad Execs say EXACTLY what your dad said...

"people don't care about what you're selling, no matter how shiny it is. They care about themselves".

It caught me last night, an interesting tid-bit to chew on, but you wrote it two days before the show aired. I'm intrigued.

OK, so you've listed 6 important elements that make you a communication expert. I want to know under which element does telling someone to 'Shut the fuck up, Roxanne!' (insert your name of choice) fall under?

I used that in a meeting once... ;)

Bruce, my man, every day's a school day on WritingBoots.

I'll keep you ahead of all the curves.

I finally decided to quit a job that's been driving me nuts--well, let me take that back. I liked my job--I despised my supervisor. I thought that before I went, I should go to someone that I trust at least a little and let her know some of the reasons I'm leaving, in the pointless hope that maybe someone, somewhere could make changes for those left behind.

In the course of the conversation, I discovered that what I had thought to be an internal but generic (as in, produced by a team at the direction of a consultant) example of truly awful corporate-speak was in fact written by the woman I was talking to. I had used this paragraph in a suggestion-box type thing to illustrate why an in-house writing class, like the one Bill Sweetland told us that the American Heart Association, I think it was, had been implemented with such good results and would be a good idea for our company, and even offered to pull it together and teach it.

When she revealed to me that she had written the paragraph in question, she told me that by suggesting that we need to write better, and using her paragraph as an example, I had no doubt frightened other employees away from offering their own suggestions to the corporate suggestion-box program because they'd be afraid that I would make fun of their writing. Also that I'd derided management and shown a complete lack of respect for them. And she told me that my stab at interpreting the jargon was completely wrong, but that it wasn't intended for me to understand anyway--it was for senior management. AND that even Shakespeare isn't understood by some people--does that make his writing jargon?

I am serious. Corporate speak is like Shakespeare.

I am going to a job where I won't be doing any direct communications work at all. I'll be a project assistant, and this new company will train me in project management, and I can't tell you how relieved I feel. Trying to assist people who are already at the level of Shakespeare is a fruitless endeavor anyway.

So there's my tale of the value of a communicator in corporate America.

By the way, I'm very glad you're back, safe, and had a memorable adventure. I look forward to your story.

Ladies and gentlemen, Hope has left the communication profession (and the profession has given up Hope).

But thank goodness there's still Hope.

I feel loved here. And valued. Thank you both.

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