Friday 12th March, 2010
Once again, the Local Government Association has published its annual list of words that public sector officials should avoid using, particularly when talking to real human beings.
Most of them bring back painful memories of the time I spent working for charities, and the interminable meetings which sapped my will to live.
I can’t bear to paste the actual words into my blog – I want to be careful who I attract as readers – but here’s a couple of pictures of the list…
(Scroll to the bottom for the point I want to make).
And number 2…
The official news story makes this point:
Just as it would be impossible for two IT professionals to speak to each other without using technical talk, it would be impossible for public sector experts to avoid using a degree of jargon.
I disagree. Technical talk isn’t the same thing as jargon – though there is certainly jargon in the technical world. For example, ‘Gigabyte’ isn’t jargon – it’s a technical term. On the other hand, ‘workflow’ is jargon – it’s a horrible name for a process.
And that’s what I hate about so much of public sector jargon – it simplifies human beings and makes them part of a process. And when that process becomes the end in itself – as in so many goverment-imposed targets (waiting lists, class sizes, etc, etc) – the human beings get left out of the equation.
‘Wellderly’. ‘Citizen touchpoints’. ‘Social exclusion’. ‘Community engagement’. Words and phrases like these turn our lives, loves and problems into something mechanical, that can supposedly be repaired or altered by a machine-like process.
And if, like me, you’ve spotted that many officials use jargon to think and that it shapes their view of the world – then little wonder so many of us get trapped in the cogs.
Don’t you think, dear stakeholder?