Jargon exists in just about all workplaces. While each has its own industry-specific terms and acronyms, jargon is often a verbal shorthand for communicating within a small professional circle. Some industries have so many terms that we consider them a new “language” (see: legalese or academese). In that way, jargon is meant to be exclusionary: It’s a signal that you are part of a shared culture that is confusing to outsiders.
Aside from industry-specific language, general business jargon has infiltrated most offices. Whether the intention is to signal “in-group” membership, or if it’s used as an attempt to sound smarter, reliance on jargon can make people tune out and lead to miscommunication. Not to mention most of it is just plain awful.
Business jargon is so ubiquitous and most everyone is guilty of using it, yet it’s also pretty widely disliked. So, on the latest episode of The New Way We Work, we thought we’d have some fun and root out the worst of the worst. We whittled an extensive lexicon of bad office jargon down to 16 widely used terms and phrases, presented here in one cringy jargon-filled statement:
We need to disrupt this with some thought leadership: I want to empower you to think outside the box, let’s blue sky some ideas beyond the low hanging fruit. We need something that will really move the needle. I want to circle back on those ideas that we double clicked on last week and took offline. I think we had a lot of alignment on the ways to create synergy so now we just need to get boots on the ground so we can leverage it. Who has the bandwidth to start growth hacking?
Fast Company senior editors Julia Herbst and Lydia Dishman joined me on the podcast to debate each phase in a March madness-style bracket where we narrowed it down to a final piece of jargon that we should all eliminate from our vocabulary.