The “Best Practice” for Jargon

Forbes has compiled a list of the “Most Annoying Business Jargon” with accompanying illustrations and acerbic captions that tell you just why theses phrases need excised from our workplace vocabulary.

From the Forbes slideshow

From the Forbes slideshow

On the list are such winners as “Giving 110%,” “drinking the Kool-aid” and “thinking outside the box.”

This Word Nerd has noticed the word “robust” (also a no-no) popping up in her grant proposals lately trying to signify that we don’t have wimpy programs, we have robust ones! But, Forbes is right: save “robust” for describing coffee.

So what does this mean for us?

It means working a little harder in our writing and our presentations. Like Forbes advises, don’t tell those you are pitching that your project/product/great idea will “move the needle,”  but be concrete on numbers and how what you want to do will help you kick your competition’s butt. Specifically.

It’s the workplace equivalent, really, of “show don’t tell.”

Make yourself a list of banned words and phrases. Tack it to your cubicle and be ruthless is getting rid of them. Make it a best practice routine for yourself to eliminate the jargon.

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One thought on “The “Best Practice” for Jargon

  1. David says:

    Thanks, Bethany, that’s excellent advice (yours – I haven’t read the piece yet, and absent your recommendation wouldn’t, their slide show being a Most Annoying of mine).

    I’ll add to be aware of internal jargon too. Avoid using words you already need elsewhere. If you’re in a field which has security concerns, don’t use “secure” to mean “get”. If you deal in simple machines, avoid “leverage” when you mean “use”. I’d actually like the English speaking world to come around to that one.

    I learned this while managing a movie theatre. We had an issue with our ticket printer at the box office, and called our Help Desk for assistance. Unannounced, they had just started a new procedure, an automated take-a-number system, said number being automatically generated in response to any email, and called a “ticket”. The phone call:
    “Hey, our ticket printer is not printing tickets.”
    “I see. What is your ticket number?”
    “Oh, I can’t say. We haven’t been able to print anything since we opened.”
    “Do you even have a ticket?”
    “No, not at all. We can’t get it to do anything.”
    “No… do you have … a ‘ticket’?”
    “…Nnnno. It. Won’t. Print. Any.”
    “No-no-no-no-no, you don’t understand. Do you have… a ‘ticket’?” *

    On and on that went. I’ve since seen it in quite a few places, so it must be a real, if minor, pitfall in any group.

    * Another lesson: English not being a tonal language, saying something with emphasis rarely clarifies a known confusion about it.

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