Corporate Buzzwords: What They Mean, Examples & Jargon Phrases

corporate buzzwords
Image source: INTHEBLACK – CPA Australia

Throughout your workday, you may encounter business buzzwords—common lingo and clichés found in corporate settings. These words can sound inauthentic or unoriginal at times, and they can also confuse those who hear them. Let’s learn more about these corporate buzzwords and determine the ones we’ll ditch in 2023.

What Are Corporate Buzzwords?

Corporate buzzwords are words and phrases that have little meaning outside of the workplace but are used far too frequently within it. These are words and phrases that have crept into the corporate lexicon but lack substance. In fact, unless used correctly, these words and phrases can limit the meaning of your conversation and make it more difficult to get your point across. If you find yourself falling into the jargon trap, here’s a closer look at when it is and isn’t appropriate to do so, as well as a list of words to limit in your workplace conversations.

Examples Of Corporate Buzzwords In 2023

The reservoir from which corporate buzzwords draw appears to be endless phrases and clichés. Consider the following examples of corporate buzzwords:

#1. Bandwidth

When someone asks if you have the “bandwidth” to complete a task at work, they’re really asking if you have the time. There’s no reason to use one word instead of the other. Using plain English rather than corporate jargon may help you communicate more clearly.

#2. Bleeding edge

This phrase takes “cutting edge” to the next level, potentially coming across as too grandiose and graphic when the speaker is referring to business sector innovations.

#3. Buy-in

When you ask for someone’s “buy-in,” you are requesting their approval or support for your decision or suggestion. On the other hand, you could request someone’s “value-add” to suggest they contribute to your app, project, or other business venture. In either case, consider whether you can simply use a more common word to convey your meaning.

#4. Circle back

During a meeting, one person may request that another person “circle back” on what they’re saying. It’s a corporate way of asking if you can discuss something later. It’s fine to convey the point either way—they’re synonymous with the phrases “reach out” and “touch base.” Still, it may come across as arrogant to some.

#5. Core competency

A person’s or organization’s innate talents and abilities are referred to by this business term. Instead of saying, “We excel at connecting people with one another,” say, “Connecting people with one another is one of our core competencies.” Both are correct, but the first is more precise and human.

#6. Deep dive

When someone uses this euphemism, it usually means they want to delve deeper into a topic. “Drill down” is another business phrase that may be used in the same context. “Let’s take a deep dive into what makes our training program work,” for example. This is just one example of corporate slang that you can incorporate or exclude from your own vocabulary.

#7. Deliverables

Whether you work from home or in an office, your boss may ask you for “deliverables” at some point. This is simply another way of asking you to complete your work—usually a specific task or project. One of the key takeaways here, as with other examples of business jargon, is that there is usually a simpler way to say this.

#8. Game changer

New processes, services, or products are sometimes referred to as “game changers” or “paradigm shifts” by businesspeople. Given the high standard they set, these phrases may appear exaggerated. Understatement is a little easier to overcome as a general communication hack than overstatement—rather than appearing arrogant and falling short, you appear modest and come across more impressively.

#9. Synergy

Businesses exist because many moving parts and people collaborate—or “synergize.” Consider this phrase: “Let’s synergize our ideation and workflow.” Consider whether using such jargon is necessary when you could simply say, “Let’s work together.”

#10. Thought leader

If someone calls themselves a “thought leader,” chances are they’re trying to boost their ego rather than being a true visionary. Allow others to call you this if they wish—giving yourself the title can come across as arrogant and counterproductive.

Worst Corporate Buzzwords to Avoid in 2023

While we can incorporate a few buzzwords in our corporate settings, some buzzwords are really not worth being part of our vocabulary.

So, which buzzwords should be phased out? In general, if you can say something without using a buzzword, that is always preferable, but here are some to avoid at all costs:

#1. Synergy

Synergy is the value of two or more things combined to produce a greater result than the two individual parts on their own. This overused word has little meaning and is frequently misused. Even when collaboration is the best way to solve a problem, it does not always result in synergy. Teamwork, collaboration, and cooperation might be better words.

#2. I’ll ping you

The term “ping” refers to contacting someone via phone or computer. Pinging someone means sending a short message to them via an online messaging platform. The term is derived from the acronym PING, which is an IT term that means to inquire about the status of another computer or server. Instead of saying you’ll “ping” someone, tell them how you intend to contact them so they can find your communication on the appropriate platform.

#3. Give 110%

When managers want to get more out of their employees, they frequently ask for 110%. This implies that people are capable of giving more than their all. While saying this may feel inspiring, it comes across as condescending. Instead, simply ask your team to put forth their best effort and work tirelessly to find a solution that benefits the entire team.

#4. Grab the low-hanging fruit

Take advantage of the low-hanging fruit – The term “low-hanging fruit” refers to something that is easy to harvest in agriculture. This phrase is used in the business world to describe tasks that are simple to complete. It comes across as condescending, especially to those who are tasked with dealing with such challenges. Remove it entirely and simply assign tasks to your team as they become available.

#5. Think outside the box

Although most people understand the phrase, it is still overused. While your meaning may be clear, the reality is that there are other, less overused ways to say this. You can get the same meaning by simply saying “think creatively” instead of using a cliché.

#6. Circle back

To circle back is to return to a discussion and revisit a topic after further discussion. While this is a valuable business strategy, the term is overused. Instead, simply state that you will revisit the topic and move on, returning to it when you are ready.

#7. Win-win

A win-win situation is one in which both parties benefit from a negotiation. This well-known phrase has become so overused that it has lost some of its potency. It also sounds like you’re trying to close a deal rather than negotiate an important business transaction. Instead, you could state that you are working toward a mutually beneficial solution.

#8. Reinventing the wheel

Reinventing the wheel means coming up with a new way to do something for which you already have a process. While this can be useful if your process is inefficient, most of the time there is no need to revisit the situation if you are doing something that works. The fact that this jargon is overused is what makes it so irritating to listeners.

#9. Take it to the next level

To “next level” something means to improve on something that is already working well. This is not ideal in business because it has little true meaning or measurement. Instead, say something like “make this work even better” or something more direct.

#10. Bring to the table

This phrase comes from the world of negotiations, which frequently take place around a table. It implies that one of the parties is bringing something new to the table. However, it is overused. Instead, simply state that someone is contributing a new idea to the discussion.

#11. Company culture

The culture created within a corporation as different members of the organization interact with one another is referred to as company culture. People are tired of hearing this word because it is frequently used in conversation without providing true direction or aiding in the creation of a positive company culture.

#12. Boots on the ground

This phrase comes from the military and refers to people who are actively working in the field with customers and clients. Your business is not like the military. Instead of implying that your employees are order takers, find another way to refer to them as respected employees.

#13. Blue sky thinking

This is a type of brainstorming in which ideas do not have to be grounded in reality. While this may help your team members’ creativity, the phrase is ambiguous and difficult for people to understand. Find another term for this type of brainstorming.

#14. Touch base

To “touch base” with someone means to connect briefly to discuss work-related issues. This phrase was chosen because it is overused. Simply say something like “briefly discuss” to avoid jargon here.

Why Should You Avoid Using Corporate Buzzwords?

Corporate jargon can irritate coworkers who prefer to converse in a more casual, authentic vernacular. Here are three reasons why you should avoid using phrases like these:

#1. Corporate jargon is vague.

When you use jargon instead of simply stating your intent or opinion in plain English, it may appear difficult to understand. Clear communication is critical in business; however, corporate jargon is imprecise. When using the English language in business, focus on functionality rather than frills.

#2. Corporate jargons are unauthentic.

Business leaders who use corporate jargon may appear arrogant to their employees. It can have the unintended consequence of sounding robotic or elitist to those who prefer to speak the same way at work as they do in any other aspect of their lives. Choosing a more authentic and relatable vocabulary can help employees feel more relaxed and at ease at work.

#3. Corporate buzzwords are repetitive.

Almost all business jargon terms are clichés. When people use them, they tend to use them frequently, making them appear overdone and grating to others. Using buzzwords like these prevents you from speaking about specific problems in a creative and precise manner. At the end of the day, it’s important to think outside the box and tailor your vocabulary to the needs of your coworkers rather than relying on unoriginal, one-size-fits-all language.

Corporate Buzzwords Bingo

Some of the more grounded employees, the lucid managers, devised a fictitious game called Buzzword Bingo, also known as Bullshit Bingo because the word buzzword may be a buzzword that does not say it as it is. No one has ever been recorded to play the game, but it’s a fun idea to sit in a boring meeting and shout BINGO when your buzzword card is full.

What Are Office Jargons?

Office jargons are sentences with a lot of words but don’t really say anything.

What Are Professional Jargons?

Professional jargons are vocabularies that are unique to a specific trade, profession, or group.

What Are Some Good Buzzwords?

Some good buzzwords are: managed, influenced, motivated, guided, supervised, hired, inspired, and facilitated.

What Is the Most OverUsed Business Jargon?

Synergize is one of the most commonly used (and despised) corporate buzzwords. Business leaders use it all the time to appear professional. “Synergize” is derived from two Greek roots: syn, which means “together,” and erg, which means “work.” Here’s an idea: how about “work together” instead?

In Conclusion,

Corporate buzzwords come and go, and while some of them really make sense, some are just better off in the trash. The English language is brimming with words that should no longer be bench warmers and instead take center stage in your workplace vocabulary. Some of these words had a good run, but it’s time to retire them.

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