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  • Hannah Ubl

Corporate Jargon that Makes Me Want to Puke


World of work, I have a beef with you. You speak in a language that I have learned to understand, but feels like smarm and marbles when it comes out of my mouth. To prevent others from feeling that icky nausea caused by these unnecessary phrases, I’ve compiled a list of corporate jargon that I’ve taken a stand to use less of, nay none of, in my corporate future.


Let’s be honest—corporate jargon may have its place in certain scenarios but I’ve seen it used mostly to make yourself appear to be “in the know” to others. Unbeknownst to you, this can make you come across as elitist, arrogant, or even like you’re hiding something. Jargon can also alienate brilliant minds on your team and maybe even instill a sense of imposter syndrome just because they aren’t in your club of corporate-speak. A few of my personal least-favorite include:


SYNERGY, AND THE EVEN WORSE VERSION… SYNERGIZE


Ok, when did this become cool to say? Is “synergize” even a real word? Maybe. But no one says this in their personal lives, so it becomes an unrelateable and uppity way of saying “work together.” For some reason, leaders say this ALL THE TIME but it often comes across as an inauthentic way of explaining their goal of harmony. Just say what you really mean.



HUMAN CAPITAL


This one’s incredibly problematic. Saying “human capital” basically reduces people—the most important asset to your business—to a line item on your finance spreadsheet. Just, no. Stop.



REINVENT THE WHEEL


Most common use of this phrase: “we don’t want to reinvent the wheel here”… aka “we don’t want to change anything because that make us uncomfortable and we’re scared of the consequences of change of any kind.” If you’re concerned about change, just say what specifically you’re concerned about and go from there. The blanket statement accomplishes nothing.



OPPORTUNITY COST


Did people walk out of Econ 101 giddy to use the one phrase they remembered? When faced with a decision between two options, “opportunity cost” usually comes up as a deciding factor. A trimmed down alternative that makes sense to all humans (and alienates none): if you’re making a decision, write a pros and cons list to make a holistic choice that’s good for your head, heart, health and pocketbook.


And some dishonorable mentions… Core competencies De-risk Paradigm shift Let’s circle back We’ve decided to pivot, or let’s pivot (PIVOT!)


So, straightforward non-pretentious friends, please join me please in never using this unnecessary corporate jargon again. Instead, let’s try saying what we actually mean, and as a fun bonus, meaning what we actually say.