9 business terms that everyone hates
The office is famously a minefield of workplace jargon. If you’ve ever sent or received emails as part of your job, the odds are that you’ve seen some workplace jargon – maybe even used some yourself! Workplace jargon – or business or corporate jargon – refers to words and phrases that are either so vague that they serve more to obfuscate than to clarify, or so clichéd that they cause an involuntary cringe.
Let’s take a quick tour of the most famous offenders. Are you guilty of using any of these business terms?
1. take offline
Usually, when you ‘take something offline’, it refers to discussing something outside the context of an in-person meeting, often because it is not relevant to the discussion at hand, does not involve everyone present, or involves others not present. The phrase probably comes from the idea of working ‘offline’, as in not connected to the Internet.
How you can avoid it: ‘Discuss at another time’ or ‘chat tomorrow’.
2. best practice
‘Best practice’ refers to ‘commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective’; for example, someone might feel that your team needs to ‘implement best practices’.
How you can avoid it: If industry standards (or, sigh, practices) are the topic of discussion, ‘best practice’ might just be your best bet. But if you are explaining to colleagues the value of spellchecking, you can probably say that it’s ‘more effective’ or ‘a better method’.
Sensibly, a deliverable is a ‘thing able to be provided, especially as a product of a development process’.
How you can avoid it: Refer to the things at that are being delivered – the reports, creative assets, presentation – rather than referring to them vaguely.
The word that probably incites more hand-wringing than any other in the corporate world, synergy refers to ‘the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects’. The word has a delicious technical flavor that makes it a favorite of business strategy meetings.
How you can avoid it: ‘Cooperation’ or ‘combined effort’.
5. low-hanging fruit
Do people in your workplace ever advocate going after so-called ‘low-hanging fruit’? Referring to a ‘thing or person that can be won, obtained, or persuaded with little effort’,
How you can avoid it: Don’t fall into the trap of ‘easy win’; instead, consider reframing the statement with ‘great opportunity for growth’
6. think outside the box
The very act of voicing this cliché usually feels like thinking inside the proverbial box.
How you can avoid it: ‘Think creatively’ or ‘approach in a new way’.
7. in the loop
When you copy someone in to an email, you might say that you’re keeping them ‘in the loop’, or ‘aware of information known to only a privileged few’.
How you can avoid it: You might choose to just keep someone ‘aware’, ‘informed’, or ‘up to date’.
8. manage expectations
The ultimate corporate move, to ‘manage expectations’ means to ‘seek to prevent disappointment by establishing in advance what can realistically be achieved or delivered by a project, undertaking, course of action, etc.’
How you can avoid it: ‘Be realistic’.
9. soft skills
These so-called ‘soft skills’ refer to ‘personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people’.
How you can avoid it: Be specific about exactly which attributes are valuable in the context of the workplace.