Bad Business Jargon: It Is What It Is

by Vault Careers | January 31, 2012

Forbes is holding a "Jargon Madness" bracket (in the style of the NCAA basketball tournament) to track what readers think is the most obnoxious, useless, and just plain lame corporate expressions.

We at Vault highly approve.

In fact, if we had our way, all offices would institute a system like Schmidt's D-bag jar on "New Girl" (where he has to pay a penalty saying tool-ish things such as "I can't find my driving moccasins ANYWHERE!" or, "Has anyone seen my other time piece?"). Employees would be forced to chip into an office Starbucks fund for saying awful things like "lots of moving parts," "learnings," and "reach out." Ugh.

But beyond being obnoxious to everyone else, why is jargon so bad?

Frankly, it's very the opposite of sounding informed. Common knowledge dictates that if you know what you're talking about, you'll talk about it. You won't fall back on vague catch phrases.

Which is kind of ironic and unfortunate, considering most people pull out the jargon to sound smart, in-the-know, and high level.

The truth is, though, that at best, business-speak sounds a little lame. At worst, it can seem purposefully dishonest.

An interviewer might wonder if you actually performed any of the functions listed on your resume since you can't talk about them plainly; your boss might think you're exaggerating the progress you're making on that project (saying you "reached out" a lot doesn't really communicate much whether you found buyers or not).

And your coworkers? They'll just flat out want to kill you.

Do yourself a favor—and everyone in your weekly meetings—and remove the following nonsense phrases from your vocabulary. Replace them with thoughtful word choices, specificity, and most importantly, truthiness. (Kidding!)

Here's the list of no-no words and phrases, according to Forbes. Meanwhile, what's the jargon you love to hate? Let us know in the comments section!

-"Core Competency"
-"Buy-In"
-"S.W.A.T. Team"
-"Empower"
-"Open the Kimono"
-"Bleeding Edge"
-"Lots of Moving Parts"
-"Corporate Values
-"Make Hay"
-"Scalable"
-"Best Practice"
-"Think Outside the Box"
-"Solution"
-"Leverage"
-"Vertical"
-"Over the Wall"
-"Robust"
-"Learnings"
-"Boil the Ocean"
-"Reach Out"
-"Punt"
-"Impact"
-"Giving 110%"
-"Take It To The Next Level"
-"It Is What It Is"

Read More:
"The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon," Forbes.com
"The D-bag Jar," Youtube
Most Overused Phrases on LinkedIn
Forbes's "Jargon Madness"

--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com

Filed Under: Interviewing | Job Search | Networking | Workplace Issues


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