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Is anyone else struggling with US business jargon?

One of the most over-used expressions at the moment in the US is ‘reaching out’ as in ‘thank you for reaching out to us’. I guess it means making contact. It carries more perceived weight than ‘thank you for contacting us’ as it implies some kind of herculean effort to ‘reach out’. The Four Tops hit ‘Reach out and I’ll be there’ might be the origin of the saying today.

I hate jargon and I am particularly twitchy about American jargon because my code-breaking mechanism isn’t wired to deal with the complexities of American speech. It can cause a great deal of confusion as this taped conversation between respective CEOs, David Cameron and Barack Obama confirms.

BO: “Thank you for reaching out to us on this eurozone crisis. From our lighthouse position it looks like a burning platform.”

DC: “Jolly good Mr. President, what would be your advice?”

BO: “Well Dave sounds like the Greeks have been drinking the Kool-Aid, time they woke up and smelt the coffee.”

DC: “Quite, just what I was saying to Mrs. Merkel.”

BO: “It’s all about peeling the onion and time to boil the ocean. The Greeks, Spanish and Italians need to move the needle and push the envelope.”

DC: “Yes all of those things would be tickety boo.”

BO: “Never be afraid to open the kimono and find the bleeding edge Dave.”

DC: “Couldn’t agree more old chap, I’ll pass the advice on to George.”

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BO: “Excellent Dave, glad we had this telcon, I need to reach out now and share my thoughts with Mr Holland in Paris. Why is he called Holland when he is French by the way? Stay tuned.”

Interpretations welcome!

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About Paul Simons

Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.
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