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Thursday, December 15, 2005 7:14 AM
Business Language's Least Wanted
Kate Yandoh on Humor

Not that we at Worthwhile are anti-neologism...but we think some recently bantered business terms are especially cringeworthy. Kevin and I put these three on our list:

1) Effort, mutated into a verb: 'Let's effort that right away.'

2) Similar abuse of the noun whiteboard: 'Or we could start by whiteboarding our strategy.'

3) The odd and slightly unsavory glidepath. 'This idea will put our program on the glidepath to profitablity.'

Which terms would make yours?

P.S. If you're a business linguist (or would just like to sound like one) check out Green Weenies and Due Diligence: Insider Business Jargon-Raw, Serious and Sometimes Funny.


Tom Hebert - 12/21/2005 10:47:28 AM
Well, without some 'meaningful metrics' we'll never get anywhere in this discussion...
Joan - 12/19/2005 11:05:35 PM
All of this craptalk (thanks, Martin) is just a way of avoiding saying what's really on the mind. When a meeting participant says, 'Let's take that offline for discussion,' she really means 'You're screwing up my meeting by bringing up relevant objections to my proposal. Shut up.'
Wendy Johnson - 12/16/2005 1:45:23 PM
Oh and these buzz words are so darn adicting...they sneak into your mouth before you have a chance to filter them out.

My votes:
offline - 'let's take that offline for discussion' which is really a way to say 'I don't want to talk about that now - let's get to it later.'

smith - as in wordsmith - used instead of 'rewrite, edit, or improve'

Jeremy - 12/16/2005 11:00:33 AM
Space. 'We've been working to improve our efforts in the software space.' Completely meaningless lung exerciser, I can't stand this. How about 'in software.' This one has unfortunately invaded all walks of life, you hear it everywhere!
Kevin - 12/16/2005 9:50:47 AM
Count me in, Martin. I'll prioritize that.
martin - 12/16/2005 9:40:37 AM
On NPR's All Things Considered radio program last night, a reporter in Iraq stated in his report that current Iraqi government was hoping to 'glidepath' through the election process. I was amazed. So now we've got reporters using insidious, hollow corporate craptalk.

So let's leverage our power to dialogue this. Then we'll effort a seamless glidepath for a new paradigm shift affecting holistic change.

Who's in?
Grant Henninger - 12/16/2005 2:24:09 AM
Glidepath? Seriously? Don't these business people know that when you are gliding you are going down? The only correct way to use glidepath in business is, 'We are on a glidepath to insolvency.' Maybe people make up these word uses just so others look stupid, I suppose they have to do something to entertain themselves in their carpeted cage.
martin - 12/15/2005 5:49:58 PM
Crystalize. As in, 'we need to crystalize that thinking'.
Kate - 12/15/2005 2:48:29 PM
Great comments-gave me one idea for the perfect seasonal or just-because gift: the new, amazingly illustrated version of The Elements of Style:


Perfect thing to incentivize anyone on the glidepath to improved communication capabilities.
Laura - 12/15/2005 1:00:58 PM
How about dialogue as a verb, as in let's go dialogue this' - that one really gets on my nerves.
Carlton Holcomb - 12/15/2005 12:24:21 PM
There's a pretty good glossary on BusinessWeek.com about hip new words. Maybe they'll make Kate's list next year!
Kevin - 12/15/2005 12:14:07 PM
Can't disagree with those, and can add Martinizing to the list. What the hell is that anyway?

Just don't remove 'sanitize', as in the hotel usage Sanitized for Your Protection. :-))
Jerrome - 12/15/2005 12:11:45 PM
I want to add 'incentivize' to the mix. My tongue hurts just saying it.

In fact, just about anything with ize at the end probably can get added to this list. Prioritize. Utilize. Makes me want to tyrannize.
Terrell Johnson - 12/15/2005 11:19:19 AM
What a great topic, Kate! I come across this quite a bit in my work, too. One word that always makes me pause and take notice is 'utilize' -- I've never understood why the simpler 'use' isn't used instead. 'Leverage' is another... what does that mean, anyway? As in, 'we're going to leverage our strengths' or something like that. I've long thought that instead of reading management tomes as a guide for how to write for business, maybe businesspeople should study Hemingway instead.


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