Too much technical jargon and buzzwording lowers work engagement and leads to a higher risk of burnout. This is the result of ISM alumnus Alexander Elia's master's thesis, in which he and Dr. Nico Rose surveyed about 650 employees on the perceived level of bullshit and its effects in companies. Read more on what the term is all about and how organizational bullshit can be dealt with.

How bullshit artists communicate

In organizational psychology, the term bullshit communication stands for communicating with misleading statements and content-free buzzwording. For example, to avoid unpleasant conversations or to assert themselves in front of others, the bullshit artist throws around anglicisms, jargon and abbreviations. "It's a strategy for increasing self-perception and the perception of others, and it often brings advantages in social relationships", Alexander says. However, it is not uncommon for bullshitting to lead to negative side effects, such as distorting the truth. Bullshit communication can be found particularly frequently in the sales sector. But it can also occur in other industries, especially in business meetings.

How bullshit and work engagement are related  

To measure bullshit levels in companies, English researchers developed a method based on which Alexander surveyed about 650 employees about their perceived bullshit level and determined a link between bullshit communication and employee engagement. The results show that a high level of bullshit lowers employee engagement and leads to increased irritation. In this context, psychological irritation represents a type of workload that, when elevated, is considered a precursor to burnout. Companies in which buzzwording, technical jargon and anglicisms are the order of the day therefore have a higher risk of suffering from burnout. 

How to deal with organizational bullshit

It is useful to ask what is meant by what is said and to avoid unnecessary meetings to counteract the use of jargon. Managers should also be careful to use jargon only when it makes everyone's job easier and serves to communicate accurately, such as in medicine. Otherwise, it should be avoided in internal communications.