The research is in: people who speak plain English are considered smarter than those who use corporate bullshit.
In a nice coincidence, I discovered this research soon after reading a stupendously awful strategy statement from a company called CarrierBank*.
‘One CarrierBank’ is an integrated, customer-centric business model that enables customers to choose any of the Group’s products, services or brands, assisted by navigation and selection tools that deliver the best possible solutions to meet their needs.
CarrierBank’s strategy to leverage its strategic assets of Cost, Capital, Culture and Customer remains, however we have sharpened our focus on elevating the customer.
If I’ve understood correctly, that baffling piece of corporate bullshit means: ‘Our strategy is to provide good service and sell things.’ But I might not have understood correctly, which is the point.
The research I referred to was outlined in Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive, a fascinating book written by Noah Goldstein, Steve Martin and Robert Cialdini.
Social scientists have found that people have a greater affection for words and names that are easy to pronounce than those that are hard to pronounce.
Similarly, the persuasiveness of a handwritten message is influenced by the quality of the handwriting, just as the persuasiveness of a typed message is influenced by the readability of the font.
The harder readers have to work to understand a message, the less likely they are to believe it.
“The findings of all this research also have more general implications for how people choose to communicate with one another,” according to the book.
“Take, for example, the fact that communicators frequently try to convey their erudition via their grandiloquent, magniloquent, sesquipedalian verbosity; in other words, they try to look smart by using unnecessarily long words or overly technical jargon.”
Unfortunately, people who use corporate bullshit actually produce the opposite effect.
“Because the audience has difficulty interpreting the language, the message is deemed less convincing and the author is perceived to be less intelligent.”
Sorry, CarrierBank, I know you thought you had me at “integrated, customer-centric business model”, but that’s actually where you lost me.
Call me stupid, but from now on I’m going to do my banking at place where I don’t need a dictionary to get by.
* CarrierBank is a fake name, designed to protect the guilty.
[Bonus read: Sorry, people, but I’m calling you on your bullshit]