Here’s a lesson from the first day of the first writing class anyone ever took: Write to express, not to impress.
That should be simple enough to remember. But too often, we churn our way through clichés, jargon and other stale expressions that indicate we’re not interested in expressing ourselves – we’re just moving our lips or striking the keys.
Relying on jargon, acronyms and the like isn’t just annoying and lazy. It’s bad for business because it says: I do not care if you understand.
It’s always good, easy fun to list ridiculous and overused words, non-words, phrases and gibberish that find their way into everyday discourse. Seems like most of it’s in business, doesn’t it? Corporate-speak can really kill English the most.
I’ve put together a list here of some of the Worst Jargon of 2014. I’m including a few examples that aren’t jargon exactly but remain crimes against the language. Thanks to friends and colleagues who contributed.
1. Learnings. An example: “John is back from his conference and will share some of his top learnings with us.”
2. Stakeholdering. I’m not sure, but I think it’s supposed to mean “relationship building,” or something like that.
3. Conceptualize. Have you used the Business Buzzword Generator? Try it now. It’s a hoot.
4. Skilling. This takes the “learning” example to the next depth. “The team will need some skilling on how to use the new processes.”
Mrs. Jones is the lady on Hudson Street… because a noun is a person, place or thing.
5. Ask. Here’s perhaps the worst, and perhaps most common, example of using a verb as a noun for no reason at all, except that you heard your boss doing it. Example: “When you go to the budget meeting, what will your main ask be?”
6. Choiceful. “When we’re making those decisions, we have to be really choiceful.”… I have no idea why anyone would ever say that, but people do it every day in Corporate America. See also: impactful.
7. Solution – as a verb. I’m not kidding. “We have a real challenge here, but we also know how we’re going to solution that.” Also: “update.”
8. Eventize. From a friend in Hollywood. An example: “We’re eventizing our entertainment slate.” Translation: We are airing this new show and it’s so incredibly hot that it’s going to be a big event, not just a regular TV show.
9. Utilize. Because “use” was out of town?
10. At the end of the day. Unless you’re in “Les Miz,” never.
11. Iconic. We used to call old movie stars “legendary.” Now, somehow, anyone of any note must be referred to as “iconic.” Stop, please.
Uhm… like, totally!
12. Uh… and Uhm… Have these replaced “like” and “ya know” in conversation or business meetings and presentations?
13. Obviously – when it’s not obvious at all. If it is obvious, you probably don’t need to say so.
14. Ideate. “We should spend a little more time with the ideation on this…” (Translation: We still need to work on this, and some of that work will require creative thought.)
15. Swirl: “Our intent is to minimize the swirl on this one…” (Translation: How do we keep the fewest number of people involved in this decision?)
16. Swimlanes: “We need to make sure everyone is clear on their swimlane and stays within it.” (Translation: Everyone needs to do what they are supposed to do and not spend time doing other people’s stuff.)
17. Hashtag. Use a hashtag, but stop saying it. With air quotes.
18. Mindshare. An editor friend sent that one. I have no idea.
19. Maximizer. Sounds naughty.
And here’s a fun piece with more examples on CNN.com. Oy!
Share your own examples. I wish I could incentivize you…