Let’s leverage our core competencies!

Whatever happened to speaking concisely and saying what you mean?

Oh, wait, I know: Business-speak happened.

I’ve been in one too many meetings lately where a speaker gets so bogged down in biz-speak jargon that it’s practically impossible to understand the point.

Granted, this isn’t a book-related post — but as a reader, I’m pretty sensitive to the use and abuse of language, and I’ve just about reached my limit when it comes to listening to people mangle the English language.

Here are a few gems that a certain coworker has been using again and again and AGAIN. (These are practically verbal tics. It’s like he uses a phrase, and enjoys it so much that he uses it twelve more times. Sometimes during the same conversation.)

  • Moving the needle — as in, “we’re trying to move the needle on customer engagement”. How about just saying “improve”?
  • Clearing the decks — um, do you mean finish what we’re working on?
  • Thought partners — no idea on this one.
  • Thinking outside the envelope — mixed metaphors much?
  • Many questions that I want to seed — okay, that sounds a bit gross.
  • We have a playbook of options — ugh, sports metaphors in the workplace.
  • Low hanging fruit — used four times in a one-hour meeting!
  • Where there’s smoke, there’s fire — used twice in the same meeting.
  • Pinch points — I can’t even.

There are also buzzwords — nothing wrong with them in and of themselves — but used constantly, they’ve become practically meaningless. Like…

  • collegial
  • collaborative
  • world view

And then there are the words that are perfectly fine, except when they’re misused or overused, such as:

  • Mitigate — Apparently, every problem ever faced needs to be mitigated.
  • Craft — Nothing is ever written or created. “Can you craft a memo?” “I’m crafting a message about the project.” How very crafty it all sounds.
  • Disperse — as in “we serve a very disperse clientele”. Um, I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

On the plus side, at least we’ve finally gotten certain folks to stop saying the oh-so-redundant “new innovations”!

I could go on… but I think you get the point.

Do you run across jargon abusers in your daily life? Have you heard anything lately that really drives you insane?

Please share… let’s commiserate!

Or better yet… let’s engage in a collaborative process to craft a thoughtweb! Argh.

16 thoughts on “Let’s leverage our core competencies!

  1. That was humorous Lisa!!

    — Low hanging fruit is so common in our meeting 🙂
    — I love ‘thought Partners’!!
    — Thinking outside the box…I have heard that…but outside the envelope !!! Haha
    — Questions I want to seed — funniest!

    Pinch Points…. ROFL….
    What do you think about Pain Points though??

    Crafting an email??? Did he mean to say drafting… that would have been easily digestable… 🙂

    I agree some of them are abused words. but you know what I feel amused when at some of them in meetings.

    And, as a side note.. in my previous workplace, there was this person who used to brutally murder English every single day and I had a spreadsheet where I jotted down lot of his exclusive things. when I had wanted to have a good laugh, I used to go through it!


    “Jealous is coming!!”

    “Jack’s luck is gone”

    “Please stop this doing”


    I had a good laugh again, thanks to you 🙂

    • I love the idea of your spreadsheet 🙂 — I’ve been scribbling down some of the best quotes in various meetings, and when I finally looked at them all together, I decided to share them here! I agree, drafting an email makes more sense… but this particular person uses “craft” for everything written. So funny. Thanks for sharing all your great examples!

  2. I’m still laughing about the seed one!!! One thing I noticed you don’t have any of are the sports metaphors. Those are constant at my workplace and honestly I don’t even understand most of them, so probably can’t quote them very well. (know your audience, dudes!!) I’ll have to listen for some today and report back. 🙂

      • OK, well I only have two from Friday but they’re good ones:

        “Let’s do the blocking and tackling” — is this fishing related?
        “We need to move the ball forward” — I’m not even sure what sport this comes from. I guess any of the ball sports.

        I also have vague memories of a pool reference that I had to have explained to me once, but I can’t remember it exactly. Obviously it made a big impression on me 🙂

        • Maybe those are both football references? (Shows how much I know about such things.) A pool reference — maybe being behind the eight ball? I think I’ve heard that one used from time to time.

  3. Very funny…and unfortunately very accurate. I’m HR so everyone seems to think I should be on board with all this lingo because it is in support of creating the ultimate work culture…sigh…it has nothing to do with culture

  4. Just cruising your blog and saw this post. Now have hot coffee-sinus-related injuries. I just sat through a week (40h of precious time!) in a “generative leadership” training. So many examples of incomprehensible gobbledygook. Your post makes me wish I hadn’t thrown out the course “book” in disgust yesterday so that I could share. “Positive Teaming” (as in teamwork) is one that comes to mind, just one of a dozen conversions of nouns into ridiculous verbs.

Comments... We love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s