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Monday, March 19, 2012

Annoying Business Jargon

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I was talking to a long-time friend the other day about annoying business jargon. He's in sales, I'm in finance. Both industries are heavy abusers of jargon, and we laughed as we shared with each other the phrases we found most annoying. Here are some of the phrases mentioned (definitions via Forbes):

  • Leverage: The granddaddy of nouns converted to verbs, 'leverage’ is mercilessly used to describe how a situation or environment can be manipulated or controlled.
  • It is what it is: No kidding. Thanks for the insight.
  • Ducks in a row: The saying apparently comes from the earlier days of bowling before machines set pins automatically. One needed to get his ducks in a row before, invariably, hurling a weighty ball down the alley to blast the poor ducks into a pathetic, unorganized flock.
  • Hard stop: An executive with a "hard stop" at 3 p.m. is serious about stopping at 3 p.m. Very serious.
  • Synergize: This word has infiltrated nearly every cube and conference room in the country. The fault here can largely be placed on Stephen Covey's No. 6 habit.
  • Move the needle: This beauty, which has nothing to do with heroin, is a favorite of venture capitalists. If something doesn't move the needle, they don't like it much.
  • Take it to the next level: In theory this means to make something better. In practice, nobody knows what the next level actually looks like, so how am I supposed to know when I've reached it?
  • Low-hanging fruit: The phrase has become a catch-all for managerial types who are trying to say "do the easy things first." Perhaps they should just say that.

If you find yourself talking with someone who abuses business jargon, fight back. For example, impress your stock broker by using this Financial Advice Generator. Or, simply don't participate by not incorporating annoying jargon into your own vocabulary.

What business jargon do you find annoying?

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