Jargon can complicate the most simple of messages. So why in the name of Webster’s does the babble persist?
“People use jargon because they want to sound smart and credible when in fact they … typically can’t be understood, which defeats the purpose of speaking in the first place,” says Karen Friedman, author of Shut Up and Say Something.
Seth Linden, executive vice president at Dukas Public Relations, agrees: “Clear and concise language makes you a better executive. Period. The key to being a good speaker is being able to speak to everybody at once. If you’re using complicated vocabulary and highfalutin imagery, you’re going to lose people.”
Slice this jargon out of your vocabulary:
1. Let’s talk that. For some, this phrase has taken the place of “let’s discuss that,” or “let’s talk about that.”
2. Hard stop. It means you’re serious about stopping. Says Patricia Kilgore, president of public relations firm Sterling Kilgore: A heart attack is a hard stop; anything else is just a schedule conflict.
3. Price point. Price point merely means price. So just say “price.”
4. Synergize. The phrase dates back to Stephen Covey’s seminal 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, in which the No. 6 habit is Synergize. The same advice came in simpler terms from “Sesame Street.” Big Bird called it “cooperation.”
5. Utilize. “Use” will do.
6. Learning. As in: “I had a critical learning from that project.” Whatever happened to simply saying: “I learned a lesson from that project”?
7. Tee it up. Not without a caddy.
8. Full service. “Does this mean your investment firm drops off dry cleaning and provides babysitters?” asks Deborah Shames, co-author of Own The Room:that Engage, Persuade and Get Results.
9. Over the wall. If you’re not wielding a grappling hook, avoid this meaningless expression.
10. Out of pocket. Replace this typical auto-reply phrase with “unavailable” or “out of the office.”
11. Low-hanging fruit. The phrase has become a catch-all for managerial types who mean “do the easy things first.” Perhaps they should just say that.
12. It is what it is. No kidding. Thanks for the insight.
— Adapted from "The Most Annoying Business Jargon," Christopher Steiner, Forbes.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- 14 Tips on Business Etiquette
- Counter bias claims: Show how your rational promotion process selects best candidates
- Supreme Court follows Ledbetter logic in AT&T pregnancy discrimination case
- Is your employee discipline fair? A 5-question self-test
- Problem Solved: Real People … Real HR Solutions, July '09