The Buzzwords of Business…

Big Words - Disrespect

Every industry has them, words or phrases that get repeated over and over until you almost start laughing inside when you hear them.  Many of them don’t even have their original meaning.  One of the most notable in sports was Hank Stram’s (legendary KC Chief’s Coach of SuperBowl IV) use of the word Matriculate.  ….and football fans have been “matriculating” the ball down the field ever since!

Webster’s Def. –  Matriculate: be enrolled at a college or university.

While listening to football commentators, you can make a drinking game out of words like gingerly, chippy, athleticism, and one of my favorite’s “physicality”.  I’m guessing physicality was inadvertently used at some point during a game or interview and everyone thought,. “Hey! cool word, let’s all use it!”

The challenge with many buzzwords is that they get so overused.  In some cases, they take on negative connotations or they really aren’t received as sincere statements or expressions on the subject matter they’re being associated with.  So instead of making one look intelligent and informed you sound less sincere and trustworthy.

If you think about Buzzwords or phrases in business there are hundreds of them.   Some have been around forever, and others have morphed more recently, usually after someone notable used it in speech or interview…think “physicality”.  

For the record (that’s one) we’re all guilty of using these buzzwords or phrases.   I’m not sure there is any way to completely avoid them.  Some have been blended into the fabric of our daily conversations to the point they are almost required.  That said, if you’re into buzzwords or work with others who are, ask yourself if the underlying meaning of the word or phrase is striking a negative or positive chord when it’s being used.  Is it effectively communicating what you’re really trying to say? 

We are not advocating to turn this into a “day-drinking” (that’s one) game at work,  but here’s a top ten list of some words and phrases that you’ve probably heard or used more than you care to admit.  I know I have!  We thought we would have a little fun and satire with them.  Hopefully, in the process it will make you question what a recipient may be interpreting when they hear it.     

  1. We need to do more “outsourcing– My job is in jeopardy, time to get my resume updated.
  2. Let’s Revisit that –  That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, never mention it again.   
  3. Change Management –  Who’s going to get rolled out of their position this time?
  4. Keep up the good work –  You’re finally productive for a change.
  5. Results-driven – You’re not working hard enough.
  6. Disruptive in the market – This is going to be huge, investors will be lining up!  Who cares if we have customers?
  7. We’re doing 360 reviews – Everyone is going to be dishing about everyone else this week.
  8. Let’s take this off-line – You’ve humiliated me in public, now shut up! You’ll regret this.
  9. Next Gen(eration) – A term to sound cutting edge, even if you’re copying a competitor.  
  10. At the end of the day – Does this mean you’re finally done lecturing me on this?

What do you think?  Are you fan or offender of any of these?  What are other current buzzwords or phrases used in your business that get overused?  Are there any you simply are tired of hearing? As always we value your comments in the space below.  

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach