Business Jargon: 12 Clichs to Avoid

Business Jargon: 12 Clichs to Avoid


Is your business disruptive and dynamic? It’s time to find another way to describe it. We’re all guilty of using the acronyms and business jargon at work. They are gathering speed and taking over everyday office chat. If you assume everyone is familiar with “thought showers” and “blue sky thinking” you could well be alienating and irritating people the moment you open your mouth.

1. Disruptive
It’s not just you, everyone knows disruptive is an annoying word. A repeat offender in the world of press releases, it’s become ubiquitous lately, but what does it mean? Well, nothing really. Use instead: new, innovative

2. Synergy
Here’s another one that’s nothing more than hot air. Use instead: work together

3. Upskill
As a word, training was clearly too prosaic, so a nifty new verbal mashup was created. Use instead: training

4. Value add
A perfectly reasonable phrase has been switched round, causing readers’ hackles to rise in the process. Use instead: add value, improve

5. Blue sky thinking
A blue sky has none of those pesky clouds to limit your boundless creativity, or something like that. Use instead: original, creative

6. Generation Y/Z/Millennials
Millennials in particular has been extremely overused. If you’re targeting a particular age group. just say it. Use instead: age

7. Dynamic
Probably the least offensive term on this list, but to be avoided nonetheless. Understand what a “dynamic website” or “dynamic strategy” is? Didn’t think so. Use instead: exciting, new

8. Touch base
One of many phrases stolen from the world of sport. It’s not as concrete as meeting up, and can be too vague. Use instead: meet

9. Break down the silos
Used to describe how one department should collaborate with another. Use instead: share information, work together

10. Take it offline
Be clear about your intended action. Use instead: continue, follow up

11. Think outside the box
This phrase began sweeping the business world in the 1970s as management consultants challenged their clients to solve the ‘Nine Dots’ puzzle. Listeners unfamiliar with the analogy are likely to ask, ‘What box?’. Use instead: think creatively, new perspective

12. Peel back the layers of the onion
The meaning of this predictable phrase is more clearly expressed by saying, “Take a closer look.” Use instead: drill down, examine

What do you think?

Business jargon can be irritating, confusing and often meaningless. When you’re communicating with busy people in the business world, they often won’t have the time to decipher your message. Have you been offended by, or fallen prey to using, business jargon? I’m interested to discover what words and phrases send you into meltdown. Comment your views below and join the conversation.

This article was written by Jelena Milutinovic on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Business Insider; The Guardian and The Muse

Image credit: Forbes

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