In these blog entries (I have written quite a few now), I believe a good percentage of my observations/ opinions about Japan have been positive. Sure, I’ve criticized a few things, but as anyone with a lot of experience of living abroad can attest to, there is no perfect country, and as an outsider there will always be some things you don’t like or understand. That said, one thing I have always been unequivocal about is my praise for standards of customer service here. It is this marked contrast with my own country, recent experiences of “service” provided by a British company, and the fact that I am going home next week, that prompted me to write today’s blog entry.
When I was a teenager there was a very popular comedy program on TV called Candid Camera. This is the kind of thing that happened. A van from the telephone company (bogus) pulls up outside an unsuspecting person’s house, and workers start to make preparations to put a telephone box right in front of the driveway. The owner then rushes out and tells them that this cannot possibly be right. As the workmen continue to insist that they have their instructions, the homeowner moves from bewildered amusement to annoyance. Finally, as things are starting to get out of hand, the program’s presenter appears from behind a tree and says to the homeowner, “Smile you are on Candid Camera”. It was all just a practical joke.
I mention this because there really are some similarities here to the actual service one receives in the U.K. or from U.K. companies: like that homeowner, at first you think it’s so bad it must be some kind of joke or misunderstanding, but then you realize it isn’t. Unfortunately, though, unlike in Candid Camera there is no happy ending - no punchline when you find out that it actually is a big joke after all.
As I mentioned, recent dealings with a well-known British airline were a disaster from beginning to end: wrong name on the ticket, total chaos checking in, delayed flight and, finally, lost luggage (my daughter got her bag 36 hours later). There was one silver lining in all this in that it was a domestic terminal and a domestic flight within the U.K. Had it not been, her luggage could have ended up in Sydney. It may amaze Japanese readers that I consider this a positive, but to keep one’s sanity this is how you need to think in the U.K.!
I am still looking to forward to going home. I haven’t seen my family for a long time, and I love the English countryside: beautiful, unspoilt villages, each with an ancient gem of a church and a cozy pub. Oh, and the green! - the bright grass green that I associate with my homeland.
But I’m going to miss Japanese service!
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How are your KPI’s and ROI’s looking? Personally, I’m more interested in a BLT. ASAP! A recent survey revealed the top 5 most hated examples of corporate speak.
1. moving forward 2. on the same page 3. touching base 4. outside the box 5. reaching out
I’m so happy to hear this! People are getting fed up with these kind of phrases. Top bosses use them and they filter down into ordinary conversation. It’s a disease if you ask me. I have used number 2 and number 4 a little bit and they are probably the least worst.
To be fair, it is hard to get the right balance in our communication. We want to be novel but not too novel that we can’t be understood. A lot of these ‘hated’ phrases at least allow a clear message or sometimes even a safe message for sensitive topics. The old classic; ‘it is what it is’, helps us convey that there is no choice and we have to accept a difficult situation and also that we may not want to talk too much about it.
My pet hate is job advertisements. They say the worst things in the nicest possible way:
Cliché 8: We need a person with the ability to multitask. Translation: You will be doing three people’s jobs… but we’ll just pay you for the one.
Cliché 17: The job is suited to a fast learner. Translation: We don’t have the budget to train new staff.
Cliché 28: The right candidate will be professional. Translation: Get the job done quietly, without causing trouble, whilst wearing a suit.
Cliché 36: We are a fast-growing company. Translation: There are currently just two of us. How about in your language? Does ‘corporate speak’ infiltrate conversation and if so, how do people feel about it? What phrases do you think sound cliched? Do you have any pet hates when it comes to languages and communication?