A quick tip about interfacing with other people
Recently I was in a phone call with a vendor representative who was talking about how he would need to “interface with his team to determine a resolution to the current matter”.
The first thought that comes to mind when I hear people talk like this is … “no”.
“No” – as in … no – I didn’t actually hear you say that. And no – I can’t believe someone would actually say it.
I get how it happens.
Sometimes it’s a sign of an overly complex corporate culture run amok – where big words are a part of the landscape. Typically though, using big words is a sign of over-compensation and covering up of a perceived weakness.
Here’s the thing though: it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because when we use big words to look smart or important, it kind of makes us look … dumb. Particularly if they are used incorrectly or bastardized from their normal definition (which often happens when people break out the ten cent words).
Maybe “dumb” is too strong of a word.
But, certainly, there are many times where being a sesquipedalian makes your language stand out like a clown attending a funeral.
Personally, I think it’s better to be useful than smart anyway. If I have a choice between working with someone that gets the job done with no muss, no fuss or someone that is too smart for their own good, I”m going with door number one every time.
To me, the worst part about this interaction was that the individual in question was in the marketing department and really should have known better. One of the fundamental rules of marketing is “communicate clearly and concisely”.
So if you find yourself over-syllabating in an oppulent manner, shift your paradigm and adjust your linguistic demeanor pronto.
The folks you are “interfacing with” will surely appreciate it.
(For a slightly different take on word usage, check out Ed Kless’ article here.)