Earlier this year I had a column here in which I suggested that communicators should join all other professions in embracing opaque jargon in order to keep non-communicator meddlers out of our business.
In that column, we learned the meaning and uses of terms like “howdahell,” “Kairos,” “The Lehrman Landing,” “Monroe’s Motivated Sequence” and “Pencil Fucking.”
I just ran across a new entry for our short glossary. In response to my column last month on what I called the “heapin’ helpin’ of oral hobo hash” served up by CVS CEO Karen Lynch during a fireside chat, Brussels-based executive communication coach Laura Shields wrote, “That fireside chat was pure beige-hosing (self-assured, uninteresting … commentary of the kind we drown in here every day).”
Great Scott, that’s good.
Finally, a name for the non-stuff that leaders say in public appearances and in writing.
(And always have, and always will. Remember H.L. Mencken’s assessment of President Harding’s communication style: “… I rise to pay my small tribute to Dr. Harding. Setting aside a college professor or two and half a dozen dipsomaniacal newspaper reporters, he takes the first place in my Valhalla of literati. That is to say, he writes the worst English I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.”)
In short, it is: beige-hosing!
Thus, those who commit the sin are beige hosers. We who must read or listen to it are the beige-drenched. And the communicators who help leaders avoid it are beige busters.
On behalf of beige-avoidant communicators everywhere, I thank you, Laura Shields. I thank you.
* Shields is a coiner and connoisseur of PR jargon—and thus, one of us.