Business language. It’s a constant bugbear of office life.
“Let’s have an all-hands meeting to get some valuable face-time and de-layer the table stakes!” your boss may say.
You on the other hand nod and smile, while secretly thinking “What the…?”
The rise of this type of corporate jargon has left many employees not only confused, but disgruntled as they try and work out what on earth these terms actually mean. And even when they manage to decifer this type of office gobbledygook employees are loathe to use them for fear they’re not using the terms correctly.
With that in mind, we thought we’d come up with the five most popular corporate jargon phrases and have a bit of fun at the same time. So read on – by the time you’re finished you’ll be able to identify the right “window of opportunity” to slip them in – or better still not use them at all!
#1 – Blue Sky Thinking
Ahh, “blue sky thinking”, officially the UK’s most unpopular business phrase according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). Essentially it suggests the emptiness of the skies, like when someone embarks on it they are thinking without preconceptions. However, if you’ve got a manager who likes to use this phrase it’s probably first up on your meeting buzzword bingo sheet. Do workers even need to dabble in a bit of blue sky thinking anyway? If you’re a creative person you probably do it without needing to be told to do it. It’s a classic example of a pointless piece of workplace jargon.
#2 – Reaching Out
This one seems to be popular with American workers. Given today’s global economy, with businesses doing more and more international trade, you’re probably no stranger to receiving speculative emails saying something along the lines of: “Hi there! I’m reaching out to you in the hope that….”
They want to say they are getting in touch. You think they want to touch you, literally. It’s ok…really…
Why they can’t just say “I am contacting you because?”. There’s no need to use such ridiculously emotive language, especially if you’re emailing me for the first time and that we’ve never met before. It won’t make me like you any more, so stop it.
#3 – Close of Play
Need we even say anything about this one? For most of us it brings about an image of a child’s playground full of adults in suits, waiting to be called inside. This is probably not whoever coined this gem had in mind though. You’ll often read it in an email: “I’ll get the report to you by close of play Wednesday”. Sometimes it’s even referred to as COP!
Do yourself a favor and the next time you need to tell someone you will deliver some work. Just say the time, if it’s the end of the day it’s the end of the day. A time would be nice.
#4 – Going Forward
We’ve all heard this clanger at some time too. “Going forward…” – as opposed to what, exactly? Going sideways? Going backward? A classic example of management speak which means absolutely nothing but is used in meetings, time and again.
You’ll often hear it in a context with another business: “Going forward, we want to be your long-term partner…” essentially means “We want to continue to work with you”, so why can’t that be said? Just get to the point!
#5 – Thought Shower
The final cracker has to be the thought shower. There was a time when it was called a brainstorm, but that term was deemed politically incorrect for sufferers of epilepsy. Essentially it means a collection of thoughts from a collection of individuals to help solve a problem and come up with a solution. How that relates to a cloud, raining thoughts, we don’t know. If anything, aren’t showers supposed to make us wet and uncomfortable? The mind boggles…literally.
So there we have it – five of the most loathed workplace jargon phrases – and we could have come up with more! Although jargon is an inevitable part of office life, it will always be interesting to see how it evolves as new cultural influences and technological influences redefine how we speak. However, while trendy jargon may be used as a shortcut, clear, simple communication will never go out of fashion. Our advice is drop the jargon and simply say what you mean!