In June of last year, I started working as a copywriter and content creator for a gargantuan national retailer, by far the largest corporation I’ve ever worked for. Along with learning the veritable alphabet soup of job position and department acronyms, I started to become keenly aware of the liberal, one might even say egregious, use of corporate jargon.
The jargon goes far beyond laughable terms like “synergy” and “paradigm shift,” and has weaseled its way into everyday, non-meeting conversations. Some are barely noticeable, like physical tics, and others are so horrifying they make you want to move to Iowa and become a beet farmer, leaving the board rooms far behind.
Here are some of the words that now apparently perform double duty in corporate culture:
Verbs into Nouns:
- I have a really easy “solve” for this.
- These are such simple “removes.”
- What is the “ask” here?
- Great “send.”
Nouns into Adjectives:
Nouns into Verbs:
- Make sure to “calendar” a check-up every month or two.
I knew that I was not alone in my disdain for this abhorrent language, so I asked my Facebook friends what their corporate jargon pet peeves were, and I received a flood of comments. By no means a complete list, for CorporateSpeak is always growing and changing, but here are some of the highlights:
- Best practices – It’s just business speak for “Don’t do it like a complete dumbass.”
- Leveraging – Just say “using,” for fuck’s sake.
- Reach out – Why can’t you just say “contact?”
- Due diligence
- Circle back
- Utilize – 99.9% of the time “use” will suffice, stop trying to sound smart. You just sound like an idiot.
- Synergy – Pair with clasped hands for maximum effect.
- Paradigm shift – Does your company’s restructure count as revolutionary to the field of science? No? Then shut up.
- Touch base
- Push through, push ahead, we need a big push…
- Suddenly now every business’s goal is to be “disruptive“
- When did “good at” become “core competency?”
- This topic is really low hanging fruit. – Can I pick the fruit and shoot it at your head with an air cannon?
- I’m out of pocket at the moment, so just ping me by end of day.
- Let’s have a status – This isn’t a fucking Facebook relationship.
- Scope creep – It’s almost as bad as if we called it “job description leakage.”
- Headcount – We’re actually called people.
- “We really need to leverage our donors to build capacity through transformational gifts.”
- Key metrics
- Move the needle – Traffic, traffic, must have more web traffic.
- We craft emails. And content. And responses. We craft so much stuff you’d think we worked at Michael’s.
- Drill down
- We do a lot of “said” things: in response to said motion, after reading said file
- Also “aforementioned” things, like the reader forgot the previous sentence. For example, “Regarding the aforementioned incident, it is recommended that Defendant stop urinating in public.
- The industry abbreviation for “barrel” is often “bbl” for whatever stupid reason. So if we have a binder of paperwork for various short-barreled rifles, it says “sht bbl” on the spine. SHIT BUBBLE.
Starbucks (which unfortunately is its own industry)
- Starbucks likes to make everything so nice. We don’t reprimand people; we “connect with” them. We don’t correct people; we “coach” them. Then, of course, it’s taboo to call us employees–because we’re all “partners.”