More management speak making people sound untrustworthy

May 28, 2014

Last week, the boss of Pfizer was asked if his company was buying Astra Zenica with the purpose of splitting it up and selling it (i.e. asset stripping). They have a history of doing it with two previous acquisitions.
His reply says a lot about businesses today. He responded:
“We will conserve that optionality.”

I’m not sure what he thinks people interpret this as. But for most normal people this just screams, “You’re trying to hide something.”
It was like Bill Clinton replying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
If you use language that normal people don’t use you sound like you have something to hide. Always.

Normal people don’t talk that like. And they don’t talk like that for a reason.
It makes you sound odd. Unusual. Distant. Untrustworthy.
And it’s the same when a company uses jargon and buzzwords – people don’t trust you.
Always tell your customers the truth, and treat them like sentient beings.

Which brings me back to companies lying to their customers. Why bother?
They’ll eventually know the truth. And they won’t believe anything you say ever again. It doesn’t even have to be a lie – just being economical with the truth will annoy them and test their patience.
Consumers aren’t stupid.

Lie to your customers and they'll notice

Lie to your customers and they’ll notice

And any company who thinks they are is heading for trouble.
Twitter. Facebook. Social media. There are any number of ways you can publicise that a company has lied to you.
So why would the company take the risk?

My answer is that it’s these companies who are stupid.
To take consumers for granted is asking for trouble.

Would you trust anyone who says: “We will conserve that optionality” to look after your kids?
Thought not.

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