Corporate Speak


Today in a meeting I attended, there was reference to a training course offered at another company. The course title? Listening for Comprehension. I do think that there’s an art to being a good listener. We’ve all had conversations with people who don’t listen to a word you’re saying. Or, maybe we’ve even found ourselves in a situation when all of a sudden we realize we have no idea what someone just said to us.

But sitting there in my work world, this title struck me as really funny. I was left no choice but to run a Google search with the words Listening for Comprehension. The first result on the topic is for a computer based training program about this topic. Yes, good news — a computer can help you learn how to be an effective listener. In fact, as the online catalog states:

This course teaches you how to comprehend verbal and visual messages to maximize your understanding of others. Because this course teaches listening skills, it is important to have your audio turned on for certain sections.

I get it — as people, we do need to “maximize” our understanding. (How’s that for another great example of corporate speak?) And, yes, knowing how to read “verbal and visual messages” is really helpful. They are essential, actually, to good communication skills. What I don’t get is that you could have a course on listening but only utilize audio for some, not all, sections of the course?

The whole concept of listening for comprehension strikes me as really corporate. It makes the art of listening into just one more thing that we can “touch base” about so that we get “buy in” from the “stakeholders” to ensure that we “add value”.

Ultimately, this example of corporate speak strikes me as really sad. Isn’t the very goal of listening to comprehend? If we need a course on “how to” listen we, as business people and maybe even as a society, are a lot worse off than I thought.

Sorry…did you say something?

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1 Response to Corporate Speak

  1. jesakalong says:

    You make some really great points here! Listening for comprehension does seem corporate. Does that mean you can listen in different ways? In one situation you can “listen” via the smartphone you’re (obviously) reading or in another, you can actually pay attention? Way to optimize your meeting experience! (I couldn’t resist.)

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