Human Resources News & Insights

Corporate jargon: Ranking buzzwords from insufferable to tolerable

Corporate jargon can do more than just annoy your coworkers – using particular buzzwords at work can also alter people’s impression of your professionalism and intelligence. 

That’s according to a recent Summit Hosting survey.

Summit polled 1,000 employees across the U.S. and asked them to rank the top corporate buzzwords. The results showed that while some jargon is unavoidable, the respondents thought certain words should be eliminated completely from employees’ vocabulary.

Worst words

Respondents ranged in age, level, and industry, but almost everyone had the most hated jargon in common:

  • LOL (spoken aloud)
  • Ping me, and
  • Growth hacking/hacker.

The survey showed that when people hear their colleagues use these phrases, they are likely to lose respect for them or question their intelligence.

It does seem to make a difference, though, whether these phrases are used in conversation or in writing. Forty-seven percent of employees said it was better to hear buzzwords than to read them, while 34% thought it was equally as bad. Almost everyone agreed that “LOL” should never be said out loud.

Somewhat acceptable

Some jargon can’t be avoided, and here are some phrases that employees can deal with:

  • Internet of things
  • Run it up the flagpole
  • Low-hanging fruit
  • Synergy
  • Piggyback
  • Take one for the team
  • Jump ship
  • No-brainer
  • Table this discussion
  • Ducks in a row
  • Elephant in the room, and
  • CC me.

The survey pointed out that the problem with these phrases isn’t necessarily that they’re overused, but that they are sometimes used in place of a substantial conversation.

Unavoidable jargon

There’s some jargon that’s so essential to the workplace that it’s probably not going anywhere. Here are the phrases ranked most tolerable:

  • A lot on my plate
  • Game changer
  • All hands on deck
  • Pick your brain
  • Hold down the fort
  • Hit the ground running
  • Leverage
  • ASAP
  • Think outside the box
  • Touch base
  • Open-door policy, and
  • Keep me posted.

Many of these are efficient; for example, how else can you ask for something as soon as possible?  Some of these phrases can even come across as intelligent if used correctly.

Communication is one of the most important things in the workplace, so be careful navigating that buzzword minefield!

 

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