As if the internet didn't offer enough distractions to keep you from that growing to-do list, the Wall Street Journal has invented a Business Buzzwords Generator. It's a humorous nod to an annoying habit among business folks: overuse of jargon.
Sure, every generation has its slang that--thankfully--eventually goes out of style. Otherwise, your ride might still be "gnarly" and your footwear choice "rad." Just as awkward: Those buzzy corporate terms that seem exciting until they're so overused that they lose all meaning.
Job descriptions abound with buzzwords. I mean, who doesn't want to employ a laser-focused, paradigm-shifting wizard who can incentivize blue-sky thinking?
A new year is a chance for a clean linguistic slate. How can you be sure you're not perpetuating annoying or even offensive catchphrases in 2019? It all boils down to saying what you actually mean.
If you're not sure where to start as you rid your personal lexicon of stale language, take note of these 10 terms that deserve to be tossed:
1. Digital transformation
This seemingly cutting-edge phrase dwells in obscurity. It's a throwaway line. Instead of using it as a blanket statement of your technological intentions, be specific. Talk about how your teams will use artificial intelligence or cloud-based platforms. Without context, "digital transformation" says little.
Being a disruptive organization is the new black ("the new black" is another phrase to jettison). However, "disruption" isn't very descriptive. Rather than telling your teams to be disruptive or promising disruption to would-be investors in your startup, map out a plan to become an industry leader. It's more meaningful and sounds less arrogant.
Wait--do you mean working together? Just say working together. If you want to talk about collaboration between departments, teams, partners, vendors, go for it. Use plain language. Synergy has had an almost seven-decade run. It's time to give it a rest.
4. Crushing it
You'd be surprised how often people say this, and it drives me nuts. Even if they use it ironically, "crushing it" always sounds a little too macho and over-the-top for my taste. If you or someone else has done an amazing job, be forthcoming and explain why. You don't have to sound like a stereotypical weightlifter bragging about bench presses.
This isn't jargon per se, but it's definitely an overused word in business. Humans can't give "110 percent" of their energy to a project, and they can't all be superstars--or rock stars, for that matter. There are better ways to recognize your colleagues. Next time you want to high-five an office "superstar," consider buying them lunch as a thank-you instead.
Once upon a time, museum workers curated. Hence, they were called curators. Now, everyone seems to curate everything. A good alternative to the word "curate" is compile or gather. No, those other terms don't sound as glamorous. Trust me: They're far more practical.
7. Girl boss
Let me first reassure you that I am completely in support of female entrepreneurs. That's exactly why I don't believe any woman's leadership should be diminished by qualifying her position with a gender-focused term. If you feel like it's a good way to recognize a leader like Arianna Huffington, then maybe you should also start referring to Jeff Bezos as a "boy boss."
8. Open the kimono
Did you just blush? Squint? Scratch your head? How "open the kimono" became standard business fare is beyond me. It's as tasteless as it sounds. Want to talk about being transparent in your business practices? Use those words verbatim. Don't get cute; this phrase just isn't.
9. Move the needle
If you tell someone to move the needle, please realize that you're not doing the same, communication-wise. For instance, do you want your team members to increase sales by 10 percent during the first quarter of 2019? Instructing them to "move the needle" isn't going to help. It's not that your people don't know what you mean; they just don't know how to meet such a vague goal. Give them a map to follow, and use data.
10. Reach out
Repeat after me: "I will not reach out. I will text. I will send an email. I will make a phone call." Reaching out implies a physical action and should be relegated to looking for a quarter that rolled under the bed or holding the elevator door open for a colleague.
Your industry probably has a host of other buzzwords. As a New Year's resolution, resolve to dispose of the most glaring ones. It'll give you a chance to say what you really mean.