Going to an office every day is a less than ideal situation, but it seems—at least until I win the lottery and live the dream on mega yacht—a necessary evil in this world. One part of the modern office experience that does not seem necessary, however, is the business jargon. It permeates every conversation, and it's idiotic.
There are four chief categories that annoy the living shit out of me. I’m going to share my misery with you below.
Words and phrases that attempt to replace other words and phrases that currently exist and do an already good job of explaining the situation:
One of the most important keys to success in business is making what you’re doing sound way more important than it is. These phrases do a great job in accomplishing this goal. For example:
-- Ideate. “Coming up with ideas” and “thinking” sound so much less important than "ideate." Why think when you could ideate?
-- Reach out/Circle back/Next steps. This is the holy trinity of business jargon. First you have to reach out (ask for time, set up a meeting, be a human?), then circle back (from where, exactly?), and then confirm next steps. My favorite moment in any meeting is the end, when someone asks, “So what are our next steps?” and everyone is silent because next steps means doing actual work, which is the last thing you want to do at work.
-- Let’s discuss this offline. This is a classic way of making what you say seem more important. Instead of saying, “Let’s discuss this offline,” you might as well say, “Hey, I’m a huge swinging dick here and I can’t let you tools hear this truly privileged information, so I’m going to point that out and make you feel like shit.” I assume the “privileged information” is about how much one dude wants to bang the girl on the call.
The modern office drone is a wordsmith. With such pleasant turns of phrase does he encourage his fellow employees. With such grace does he communicate the importance of his business dealings.
He really helps us take down that "low-hanging fruit" while making sure "our ducks are in a row" and that we haven’t "bitten off more than we can chew," all so we can maintain our “in the loop” status. As long as we don’t "miss the forest for the trees", we should really be able to "chalk this one up as a win."
You don’t know how miserable I feel right now after just reading that. Someone please help me.
Phrases that make work seem like war:
There are phrases that really go overboard, when making work seem like a struggle between good and evil. I can sort of understand football coaches using phrases like “in the trenches,” but when was the last time anyone’s had a gun to their head when deciding how much money to spend on an ad campaign? Have you really been tied up in meetings all day? Is it a tied to the chair situation, or what? Whoah, dude, if your boss is really killing you, you might want to call the cops. That's illegal.
Any phrase with the word "brand":
The word "brand" is the enemy of all that is good and pure in this world. It epitomizes the idea that most of the modern economy really has nothing to offer, but is just trying to trick idiot consumers into buying more of what they don’t need.
Let’s take a good look at some of my favorites:
-- Personal brand. Are you putting your personal brand out there? Are you really stamping that project with your personal brand? Make sure you don’t get too drunk at the company party; you don’t want to mess with your personal brand.
-- Humanize a brand. This is a phrase that, by its sheer definition, is illogical. A brand (whatever the hell that means) is a company, a product, an image. By definition, it is not human. So please, next time your boss tells you that this project will help "humanize the brand," stab him in the eye with a fork.
-- Brand promise. Can you believe we live in a world where this is an actual thing? We think that our brand promises something to people, and if we violate that promise, their world will turn upside down. That’s such shit. No, you provide a product or a service. If that stops happening, maybe people will take notice.
-- Branding exercise. Just an absolute all-timer. If someone in your company says, “Well, this is really a branding exercise,” it means they that ALREADY know their idea is complete shit, will have no measurable impact, and they don’t care. Run away from brand exercises.
But you know what’s sad thing about all of these phrases? I use them. All the time. Without thinking.
I’ve become the enemy.
[Young businessman image via Shutterstock]