Modern-minded MDs lighten up their business talk

The majority of company directors
believe that cracking politically-incorrect jokes and using slang are now
acceptable in many business situations, according to the fifth annual Aziz
Management Communications Index
.

The research by
consultancy The Aziz Corporation reveals that 57 per cent of directors feel
that politically-incorrect but funny jokes should be allowed in internal
conversations and meetings, with a further 17 per cent believing they should be
allowed at any time.

Nearly two-thirds think
the use of slang should be permitted in internal meetings, with a further 21
per cent believing slang is acceptable at any time. The use of mild swear words
is deemed acceptable by 45 per cent of directors in informal meetings and by a
further 14 per cent at any time.

It appears that the
acceptability of jokes depends upon how funny they are, rather than whether or
not they are politically correct. Just under a third of UK directors believe
that politically correct jokes that are not funny should never be allowed in a
business setting.

In comparison, only 24
per cent of UK directors believe that politically-incorrect but funny jokes
should never be allowed. Women are also more likely than men to take offence at
politically-incorrect jokes, with 33 per cent of female directors believing
that they should never be allowed, compared to 18 per cent of male directors.

The research shows that
business language has become much less formal in the past two years.

In similar research  by The Aziz Corporation in 1999 not a single
respondent believed that politically-incorrect jokes were acceptable, whether
in front of clients or in internal meetings. Two years ago, business people
were unanimous that mild swear words were unacceptable in front of clients.

"While great care
needs to be taken when cracking jokes, the definition of a joke is something
that makes people laugh, said chairman of The Aziz Corporation Khalid
Aziz.  "While
politically-insensitive jokes may be considered funnier, these can ostracise
colleagues, associates and business contacts. It is important to remember that
a joke that sounded great in a bar at 10.30pm doesn’t always go down so well at
9.30am in the light of day."

By Ben Willmott

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