Companies claiming to create “synergies” in an effort to develop a “value-added” “paradigm” that leads to new “solutions” may want to be strategic in another way: not going overboard with cliche phrases and industry jargon. According to a recent survey, terms such as these are among the most overused in the workplace.
The national poll by Accountemps includes responses from 150 senior executives — including those from human resources, finance and marketing departments — with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.
Executives were asked, “What is the most annoying or overused phrase or buzzword in the workplace today?” Their responses included:
“At the end of the day”
“Thinking outside the box”
“Take it offline”
“On the runway”
“Get on the same page”
“Buzzwords and industry jargon are a form of shorthand used by people within a particular company or profession, but they can be confusing or even seem exclusionary to individuals outside of that field,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting For Dummies. “When these words are overused, they can lose their impact altogether.”
Part of the motivation to use buzzwords can be attributed to a desire to demonstrate your expertise, but this can often backfire. Added Messmer, “Even though the terms you use may be clear to you, other people must understand them if you hope to communicate your point effectively. For instance, instead of saying a project was a ‘win-win,’ explain why it was successful.”
As society and pop culture evolve, old catchphrases die out, while new jargon is born. Following are some examples of currently popular buzzwords and their meanings:
Watercooler games n. — coworker discussions
Smell test n. — determining the potential success of a product
Critical path n. — determining the appropriate steps to take
Low-hanging fruit n. — easy opportunities for new business
Bandwidth n. — the amount of time and resources needed for a project
Download v. — assess the facts of a particular situation
Brain dump n. — providing all of the information; typically given when someone is handing over an initiative or preparing a successor
© 2005 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.