Ten buzzwords we should stop saying around the office
Why do we walk into work on a Monday morning and leave the plain-English-speaking part of our brain outside in the street?
Nearly all of us are guilty of using business jargon around the office, even if we don’t realise we’re doing it. But if we want to make sure we stay connected to our customers and important stakeholders, sometimes it’s essential to be able to separate from those buzzwords and, you know, speak like regular humans.
Here are the ten worst offenders that we need to put a stop to around the office, once and for all.
1. Take it offline
Originating in the early days of teleconferencing when being ‘on line’ sounded new and exciting (i.e. in about 1955), to take something offline simply means to talk about it later – or more likely never again.
This might sound like a word dreamt up by David Brent from The Office, but it is, in fact, a real word used around the non-sitcom office. It means to generate extra energy by combining things, although ironically the word often has the opposite effect on anyone who hears it.
3. In the [...] space
Unless you’re employed by NASA, the word ‘space’ is used around the workplace merely as an unnecessary substitute for the name of a topic or category. For example, ‘Can you give us a heads-up on what’s happening in the online space?’ simply means ‘What has the digital team been up to this week?’
4. Deep dive
Disappointingly, this phrase has nothing to do with marine exploration but simply means to go into detail about something. However, context is everything and a gifted practitioner can give the phrase a shot of oxygen with lines like “Great insight, Tiffany – but let’s take that offline before we do some deep dives into that space.”
5. Going forward
This one has become so ubiquitous in the workplace that it now sounds vaguely intelligent until you regain your faculties and remember that all it means is from now on, or in the future. It was probably coined by some business ‘guru’ to imply that a company isn’t going backwards, but tends to have the opposite effect when used in statements like ‘going forward the organisation is facing strong headwinds and will need to rigorously review its cost base’.
The ceaseless quest for alignment is the lifeblood of the modern corporation. Virtually anything can be aligned: teams, projects, customers, budgets, biscuits. If done very skilfully, an alignment might even generate synergies going forward.
7. In the loop
Although a bit of a tired adage these days, ‘in the loop’ certainly still does its rounds around the office. And being such a fun phrase, who hasn’t thrown out a sneaky “I’ll keep you in the loop, Janet!” in their time.
This word was rarely used outside the scientific arena before it was talent-spotted by the corporate world and made famous. Now it’s all, “this seems like a great plan, but how does it look on a granular level?”
9. Reach out
‘Reach out, I’ll be there’ crooned The Four Tops in 1967. Fast forward forty-eight years and the expression ‘reach out’ has itself rocketed to stardom by shouldering its way into the corporate lexicon.
10. Circle back
The third-grade cousin of premier league superstar ‘going forward’, ‘circle back’ can nonetheless hold its own against any other buzzword on this list. The phrase makes absolutely no sense and simply means to return to something later.
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