Does anyone appreciate business jargon? Or are we so accustomed that we don’t notice the obscure idioms companies toss around on the daily? The marketing industry, for one, is known for its overstretched vocabulary and “laser-focused” buzzwords (see how we did that?). And while each of the words in our list has a ring to it, they’ve come to our attention as being overused, outdated, somewhat cliche, and, most importantly, vague. We highly recommend avoiding using buzzwords that don’t hold any weight if you want to see positive change throughout your organization.
The international staffing agency, Accountemps, conducted a poll asking 100 Canadian senior executives what they think are the most overused catchphrases or buzzwords in the workplace today.
The data collected from the poll suggested, “business communication should be clear, straightforward and devoid of industry jargon,” Kathryn Bolt, president of Accountemps’ Canadian operations, said in a statement. “When terms are overused, they lose their effectiveness.”
She added: “While it can be tempting to rely on buzzwords from time to time, employees increasingly are being evaluated on their communication skills. Avoiding overused terms, particularly in formal communication, will help workers communicate more efficiently and professionally.”
Here are 16 overused buzzwords you should stop using immediately:
- Guru (and while we’re here, let’s add ninja, rock star and wizard) – Everyone is a guru these days. After all, anyone who talks about anything with a modicum of self-ascribed expertise meets the definition.
- Pain Points – Although saying you’re “addressing the pain points” sounds cooler than the more accurate alternative, “fixing problems”, it also sounds pretentious.
- Push the Envelope – What you’re saying is you’re pushing your limits or testing your boundaries. But where exactly does the envelope factor in here?
- Low-hanging Fruit – This mainly describes the most obvious opportunities. Once you’ve tackled the low-hanging fruit, may we suggest you start doing some real climbing.
- Game-changer – To be a game-changer, you truly have to offer something revolutionary, and then you have to live up to your hype. Just saying.
- Thought-leader – Although it’s an excellent way to sum up becoming a leading authority, it also has a hint of “guru” about it.
- Visionary – This is a statement that should be recognized about you by others; you should not have to declare it to the world.
- Innovation/Innovate – This word has become universal, which is too bad because it doesn’t mean anything useful. Businesses should be deemed innovative on merit.
- Disruptive – Everyone wants to be a disruptor, but there’s nothing noble about disrupting.
- Growth Hacking – People argue growth hacking is something new, but it’s just a fancy way of saying “marketing.” We say, call a spade a spade.
- Hit the Ground Running – Total cliche. Wouldn’t having hard dates be more impressive?
- Directionally Accurate – What you’re saying is that something is true, but you don’t have any real numbers to back it up?
- Big Data – Big data is a collection of large data. And the phrase is Googled 16,000,000 times.
- Paradigm Shift – It’s a valid way to describe changing how you do something, but it is so overused. We now have paradigms shifting paradigms of paradigms.
- Going Forward – Is there another direction you think you want to go?
- Think Outside the Box – We wish people would think outside the box and find a new way to say this.
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