Jargon – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.
The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Later in the week, a second post will summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme.
This week’s theme is business jargon.
Jargon Used in a Sentence
2 backwoods folks sitting in the wilderness, drinking moonshine. One says to the other, “Gimme a tug o’yer shine. My jar-gone.”
Business Jargon that Everyone Can Stop Using
Business jargon has a bad reputation, and for good reason.
For starters, people outside of your business or those who are new to your industry aren’t typically familiar with it. It carries no meaning to them because it’s made up by people in a specific group to be used within that specific group.
And often, it doesn’t have any meaning to anyone.
Jargon and excessive technical terms are regularly used to confuse clients and consumers, making something sound fancier than what it actually is. Essentially, you’re using a lot of words to say nothing.
That’s basically the opposite of what any writing, communication, or [good] business class would teach you. So it’s time to put a stop to the jargon.
Every industry, of course, has its own terms, abbreviations, and acronyms. Especially acronyms. They’re everywhere these days. To get you going, we’ve assembled some simple, but common terms and patterns to remove from your vocabulary.
This is a classic example of using words to say nothing. Taking your business to the “next level” sounds nice, but doesn’t actually mean anything. The next level of what? Are we playing a videogame? Are you moving offices upstairs?
Instead of promising a “next level” experience, actually say what you’ll be doing or providing that will advance the status of your customers.
“Work Smarter, Not Harder”
One of those phrases people like to throw around as if they came up with it themselves, there’s a few problems with this classic quip.
First, it implies that working smart isn’t hard work. While it might make your life easier down the road, it’s often the harder option upfront. Second, it gives this connotation that “hard work” is bad. Work is work. By its very definition, work involves resistance and opposition.
Third, it might connote, “Work smarter because right now you are acting like an idiot.” Not a highly effective motivational technique.
If anything, you should aim to work harder and smarter (but remember, you and your team are not acting like idiots).
“Think Outside of the Box”
While Taco Bell was able to put creative spin on this cliché and turn it into successful slogan, the original phrase is played out. In fact, trying to put additional spins on it (like “think outside the cubicle”) is pretty played out too.
When coming up with new ideas, you don’t need a fancy term for the process. Just say you’re aiming for a unique approach.
For those who have been fortunate enough to avoid this word, a “soloproneur” is a self-given title used by one-person startups and self-employed contractors.
The problem is, it’s not even a word, and its existence is entirely redundant. Entrepreneur is a perfectly applicable title for these people. Whether they have people working for them or not, the one term covers it all. So please, use that.
Just a fair warning, if you encounter someone labeling themselves as a ‘solopreneur’, you can expect a fair amount of additional jargon coming your way.
Any Vague Verb or Action
There isn’t a specific word for this example, but it’s jargon nevertheless. You’ve encountered people who do it. You’re probably guilty of doing it yourself. Whenever someone says “we’re pursuing additional strategies” or “we’re maximizing output” or anything like that, they’re not really saying anything.
Don’t apply generic blanket verbs to the work you’re doing. Instead, actually say the work you’re doing in ways that people actually understand.
Pretty Much All Adverbs (and a Lot of Adjectives)
If you went to college, you probably had at least one professor who hated all adverbs and adjectives. They’d say things like “You’re not ‘largely’ successful. Either you’re successful or you’re not. You don’t run quickly. You just run. If you run quickly, you’re sprinting. If you’re running slowly, you’re jogging.”
While they can have their place in the English language, adverbs and adjectives are certainly abused. Sometimes they a super abused (see what I just did there?). Use them with caution.
These days, synergy is almost a running joke when it comes to jargon. If you ever find yourself using it, stop. If you hear someone else use it, run away. Do not “synergize” with them.