Banish These 61 Overused Business Buzzwords & Jargon

Most buzzwords had real meaning before the words became overused, so why do we use these business buzzwords or jargon?

  • We are trying to look smarter than we are.
  • These words make us feel important.
  • This language gives us a sense of common language.

Perhaps the insider language make us feel smarter, or maybe we want to belong to a tribe of people. The latter is a deep need inside all of us. ​ Yet how does this language cause others outside of our circle to perceive us? Are they puzzled? Or angry that they don’t understand our odd language. These jargon words can become so overused that they become meaningless, filler words for our conversation.

So where do we go from here? We should become more self-aware of the challenges associated with business jargon and consider reducing our usage of words that aren’t common vernacular. Let’s make it a game; see how many resonate with you? Click “READ MORE” to add up the number of jargon words you have used to see your ranking.

If we aren’t careful to limit using this language, it can…

  • Conceal the clear message.
  • Keep things vague, often intentionally.
  • Ce perceived as derogatory by some.
  • Dismiss those that don’t know the language.

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Add up the number you have used to see your ranking; we will stick with the “buzzing” theme and choose flying insects for our jargon meter classification: I scored a 59…a Kamikaze Killer Bee, since I have used many of these myself! :) 0–10: Tame Honey Bee 11–20: Common House Fly 21–30: Mingling Mosquito 31–40: Wily Wasp 41–50: Stinging Yellow Jacket 51–61: Kamikaze Killer Bee Have fun and good luck!

Here’s The List of 61 Overused Business Jargon Buzzwords

1. Deep dive Shouldn’t we always do a deep dive? 2. Low hanging fruit We should pick as much fruit (revenue) as possible. 3. Win-win I’m sad to say that Stephen Covey’s line has been beat to death. He must be rolling over in his grave. 4. Deliverables Delivering stuff is necessary but this word can go… 5. Value proposition or value added This is pretty much understood, or you should be fired.

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6. At the end of the day… it is time to go home, not stay all night and ignore your family and friends. 7. Bring to the table Let’s keep our tables confined to the lunchroom? 8. Disruptive innovation If you have to describe what you are doing as disruptive or innovative, it is highly unlikely that you are doing either. 9. Think outside the box Who defines what is inside and outside the box? And what is the box? 10. Paradigm shift I don’t need my paradigm shifted… 11. Close the loop Yes, we need to update people on projects and stuff, but we can just say that instead. 12. Reach out or Touch base This conjures up images of reaching out and physically touching someone. Please don’t do this, or I will call HR. 13. Synergy Sounds more metaphysical than work related… 14. Mission critical Um, you are not Tom Cruise (neither am I btw), and your assignment is most likely not Mission Impossible 15. Empowerment Almost no one actually delegates authority, so others can make appropriate level decisions on their own.

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16. Buy-in Let’s go to Best Buy instead…I need a new 55 inch 4K TV. 17. Engagement We aren’t looking to get married here, now are we? 18. Game changer Very few decisions are genuinely “game changing”; we fool ourselves into believing our own BS. 19. A lot of balls in the air Let’s not even go there… 20. Best of breed or best practices Nobody has the corner on the market of “best practices”. There are no experts, only expert testers. 21. Bang for the buck I don’t want to hit or shoot the dollar in my wallet; do you? 22. Business case If you need to explain the reason for your idea, make sure it involves logic and legitimate ROI. 23. Competitive advantage If you think you have one up on your competitors, think again. I guarantee that one of them is ahead of you. 24. Human capital People aren’t to be likened to money, ever. 25. Jump the shark Thanks to Happy Days this one persists. Jumping a shark in the office would be ruled out by the bean counters in accounting and the liability killjoys in HR. 26. Laser focus Watch where you are pointing that thing; you could put someone’s eye out! 27. Level the playing field We aren’t playing anything, and the field ain’t level. There are more powerful companies competing against you.

28. Magic bullet Outside of JFK and Abraham Lincoln (still not sure how security didn’t stop the murderers), there aren’t many of these. 29. Next steps Um, by definition you have to take a next step after your current one. 30. Out of pocket Don’t be digging in or out of my pockets 31. Pain point If you need a Vicodin or Prozac, your workplace is to stressing. Find a new one. 32. Proactive If we aren’t proactive, we should be fired. See Donald Trump! 33. Intentional Everything is intentional; this implies that we mindless walk around. Even laziness and procrastination is intentional. 34. Reinvent the wheel It’s already been done; stop trying it. 35. Roadmap Unless there is a road trip involved, stop using this word.

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photo credit: IMG_3004_2_3 via photopin (license)

36. Leverage We can lie to ourselves about having this, but this is only an allusion. 37. New normal Normal is normal. There is nothing new about it. 38. Organic growth Is there any other kind? 39. Push the envelope Just makes me think of a paper cut on the tongue… 40. Sea change Have you ever been stranded with no flotation device in the middle of the ocean? Nope? Didn’t think so. 41. Stratcom or Strategic Communication Our words better be thoughtful and carefully crafted. Don’t go off half-cocked. 42. Streamline Aerodynamics are for cars not business. 43. Gain traction This one’s for tractors and race cars. 44. Herding cats You can’t do it, but it might be fun to try some day when you are bored. 45. On the same page You will know if you aren’t…soon enough…pink slip!

photo credit: Cat Herders via photopin (license)

46. Secret sauce Unless you are a BBQ company, you don’t have it. 47. State of the art Why are we talking about how and why this abstract painting moves us? 48. Strategic plan This term is used mostly by people who couldn’t tell strategy from a hole in the ground. 49. Unpack This ain’t the Boy Scouts, and we ain’t going camping. 50. Zero-sum game This must’ve been a word the bean counters conjured up from some seance. 51. Alignment Go visit a chiropractor or physical therapist if you need help with this. 52. Diversity How do we define the ideal percentage of diversity? We need lots of different people, yes, but we can never achieve some nirvana state of diversity. 53. Exit strategy If you need an one of these, look for the red signs. 54. Face time No I am not talking about using FaceTime on your iPhone. 55. Impact We sure as heck better make an impact, or see The Donald.

56. Above board Is there such a position as being above a board? Cutting board? Board of Directors? 57. Cast a wider net We ain’t fishing in the Big Mouth Billy Bass Tournament 58. Integrated marketing By definition, marketers must think about different tactics that make up a campaign. 59. Mind share Unless you are Neo from The Matrix, you can’t get inside someone else’s mind. 60. Peel back the onion “Onions have layers”, said Shrek to Donkey. These things just make you cry, and that’s not a highly sought after business trait. 61. Transparency If you have to talk about it, you don’t have it.

So how did you do? What was your score? Find your rating and challenge your friends to see how they rank: 0–10: Tame Honey Bee 11–20: Common House Fly 21–30: Mingling Mosquito 31–40: Wily Wasp 41–50: Stinging Yellow Jacket 51–61: Kamikaze Killer Bee


Originally published at www.milesanthonysmith.com.