Buzz Words

The other day, watching UFC, I saw a commercial for a martial art science show. The only thing I could think of was, ‘oh great, not again.’

When everything is science, nothing is science. A guy hits a bag, they put a couple of graphics on there (that we were doing in 2011) and magically, ‘science!’ It reminded me of years ago I was teaching seminars with our product, The Screw, when someone from another system made a video of him doing his own version – it was quite bizarre. Ok, so this is some of the instruction from the screw.

Other than me looking less gray, wow, I think I actually have 5 more hairs on my head, that was what we were teaching, that’s medium level instruction. The other guy began making videos using ‘the screw’ but he was letting people grab him in a bear hug and then he would just start spinning in a circle and jumping and ducking – I wish I could find the video, but he’s out of the game now and all of his videos have been taken down. I knew him, he was a nice guy, but I called him out on it.

His response, ‘I’m doing a screwing motion – science is universal, I can apply it however I want!’ To him ‘the screw’ was a buzzword, we were growing as an organization, so he attached himself to the buzzword.

It was from this lesson, many years ago, that I removed buzzwords from my vocabulary as much as possible.

Now, let me explain to you why…

The key to good communication is creating consensus, where we agree instead of disagree or agree to disagree. What’s the first key to finding agreement – making sure we are talking about the same thing. If we are talking about picking fruits and vegetables and I’m talking apples, and you’re talking oranges, we are never going to agree. We have to make sure we are talking about the same thing so we can agree on THAT, and then we discuss everything else – we have to have a core definition to come back to.

So, why did I remove buzzwords from my vocabulary? I recently asked everyone in an online webinar on mindset, ‘before we get in to this section, I want everyone to define authenticity for me – type your definition in!’ to the text box. Everyone had a different definition – how could we possibly talk about authenticity if we didn’t agree on the definition? Some saw it as an emotion, some saw it as an adjective, some saw it as a noun – all of them saw it in terms of the modern self-help buzzword. And, if you have your own definition, you can be right, not correct, and you can always move the goal post to suit you.

So, I defined it, we all agreed on the definition, and looked at one method of becoming more authentic. A week later a participant emailed me, ‘I am so glad we did that, now I know what I’m working toward, and whenever I’m unsure – I just look back at the definition!’

My advice – don’t use a buzzword, talk in plain language everyone can agree on and understand. Right now I hear, ‘new normal’ constantly – what is the ‘new normal’, well, other than a way for people to – oh, look, jump on the latest buzzword, seem like they are in the know, and you will automatically listen to them because they are talking about the new normal! Right? No, wrong. There is social distance, there is protecting the vulnerable to Covid, there is PPE – so, uh, Mr. New Normal – which one are you talking about? Why don’t we skip the buzzword and you tell me what we are actually talking about so we can agree on it.

Communication is the problem right now in a lot of ways – so many buzzwords, so many media quips and sound bites, so many slogans – when we don’t have an understanding of the actual facts…like, should we or should we not wear masks? How about gloves, should we wear those? Can I hike without a mask?

I don’t mean to rant, but normal is pretty relative, right? I think it’s normal to let me dog lick my face – some people don’t consider that normal. So, how can we all agree on a ‘new normal’ if we can’t agree on the definition of ‘normal’.

This is why buzzwords are dangerous – buzzwords create an ‘in-crowd’, you’re either in on the lingo or you aren’t. So, humans, as social creatures – we want to be in, we will be in the crowd, walk with the herd – and soon, the new normal, which you never defined, doesn’t line up to what your definition of normal is – and you are stuck with it. Is the new normal of the internet to have children have unfettered access to pornography and violence with no parental guidance? Because that level of access is pretty normal on the internet – but is it normal to you?

Don’t get sucked into buzzwords, focus on what you can define, agree on – not the buzzword.

Don’t talk about ‘synergy’ – talk about the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. Does it take more time at first, yes, and can you shorten it a little, of course – but it means that your students, whatever the topic – from synergy to submission – will have a clearly defined objective to meet, a place we can all agree on and work from.

It’s not synergy, it’s an interaction between two groups to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. I can ask you, ‘do you think this has a greater affect than what you could do on your own?’ and you can answer, versus, ‘do you think you’re achieveing synergy?’

It’s not a submission, it’s a choke, an arm bear, a heel hook. I can ask you, ‘are you able to utilize an joint manipulation here’ and you can answer, versus, ‘Can you get a submission?’

As for that guy, doing his own version of the screw – well, our videos are still up, we are still out here teaching, I’m still writing – he’s, well, gone, and I think that say something.

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