I ran across Forbes’ The Most Annoying, Pretentious and Useless Business Jargon the other day and I’m embarrassed to say I am uncomfortably familiar with quite a few of the top 45 items listed. In my defense, I never use jargon in written content meant for public consumption, and several of the worst offenders are sayings I personally dislike, but feel compelled to use in conversation or email to match the tone of what colleagues and business associates are saying. I’m sure we all unduly influence each other in that respect.
Jennifer Chatman, management professor at UC Berkeley, is quoted in the Forbes article as saying, “Jargon masks real meaning. People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”
It certainly is true that much of the jargon I use is a shortcut for the full expression of what I’m trying to communicate. It seems I have been using jargon as a lazy way of getting across a point in fewer words; however, it is often quite useful in communicating an idea quickly but with an impact that both parties fully understand.
I guess I’ve just received a wake up call that, as with other forms of good journalism, business jargon is unacceptable in terms of serious communication.
Here is the list of jargon I’ve used that is included in Forbes’ most annoying and pretentious list:
Core competency (I think I used this in my job hire interview with DJA!), empower, move the needle, open the Kimono, bleeding edge (cutting edge probably goes along with this), core values, scalable, best practice, think outside the box, ducks in a row, ecosystem, solution, leverage, full service, drill down, it is what it is, robust, take offline, synergize, learnings, reach out, hard stop, punt, impact, give 110%, take it to the next level, cut and dry, window of opportunity, low hanging fruit, peal the onion.
30 of the 47 listed by Forbes – yikes! How many of Forbes’ 45 most annoying and pretentious business jargon do you use? Do you think the use of these phrases is an acceptable way to communicate or do you agree with Forbes that it is really annoying and pretentious?