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by Vault Careers | July 12, 2011


Another entry for the folder marked "things we probably didn't need a university researcher to tell us".

Apparently the use of business jargon is more likely to make people think you're lying. According to BNet, "the study is out of New York University and a Swiss university and shows that when you want to seem believable and trustworthy, concrete language is the way to go."

No, really: there are times when you might want to seem believable and trustworthy—as opposed to all those other times when you're happy to come off as a flaky liar. Best to keep that sincerity for when you really need it, eh?

Anyway, on the rare occasion that you want people to believe what's coming out of your mouth, apparently it behooves you to sound like, well, a normal human being, rather than a robot programmed to ejaculate business-speak.

Here's a handy list of some key terms you may want to avoid—with possible alternatives thrown in for good measure.

Business-speak             What people who aren't liars say

"Reach out"                    "Talk to/phone/email/send carrier pigeon to"

"Deep dive"                    "Instead of doing our usual half-assed job, we took the time
                                      to investigate properly"

"Circle back"                  "We'll discuss this again--ideally when we actually know something about it"

"Soup to nuts"                "Things are so broken we couldn't patch them anymore, so we're
                                      going to fix them properly"

"Deliverables"                 "Mundane tasks I am responsible for completing"

"Ballpark"                       "I have no idea. But here's a guess"

"Verbiage"                      "Words"

"Let's take this offline"     "Let's talk about this after the meeting, so we don't
                                      embarrass ourselves in front of the boss/waste everyone else's time"

Of course, that merely scratches the surface of the horrors of business jargon, but consider it the point where the fun starts: why not submit your own pet peeves below? Bonus points are available in categories including the funniest, most egregious and best translations to normal-speak. Have at it.

Read More:

BNet: Business Jargon Makes People Think You're Lying, Study Says

Can You Tell if an MBA is a Liar and a Cheat?

--Phil Stott,


Filed Under: Workplace Issues