Are business buzzwords more annoying than useful?
A recent Wall Street Journal article observed about business buzzwords, “Some are just hackneyed. Others signal something, but mean nothing specific. Others nod to a shiny virtual future, which they may or may not deliver. Some are just irritating.”
A survey of more than 1,500 corporate workers taken last November identified the most annoying business buzzwords as: “new normal,” “culture,” “circle back,” “boots on the ground,” and “give 110 percent.”
Yet the survey from Preply, the online language tutor platform, finds seven in 10 admitting they use such corporate jargon, two in five saying they hear it once a day or more and only one in five saying they outright disliking business buzzwords. More than three in four respondents believe using corporate jargon makes someone sound more professional, and 71 percent say they have used it for this reason.
A Columbia Business School study published in fall 2020 found business jargon is often used by individuals feeling insecure about how they will be perceived.
“Jargon is like a suit, a car or a watch — it’s a status symbol. Those who are insecure ‘dress up’ their words, believing it will make them appear smarter or cause others to take them more seriously,” said Adam Galinsky, a Columbia professor, in a press release.
Still, a recent Inc. article notes that, while mocked, buzzwords often become standard business speak. The article also notes that although they are often perceived as annoying, buzzwords “also tend to capture something real and true about our collective anxieties, aspirations and general state of mind at a particular moment of time.”
The Journal article included interviews with CIOs who identified “agile,” “digital transformation,” and “innovation” as some of the most overused tech terms of 2021.
Offering advice around business jargon use, Edward Wagoner, CIO at Jones Lang LaSalle, told the Journal, “I’ve started trying to challenge myself that if I’m using a tech buzzword that I would have to explain to my 80+ year-old mother (which is all of them), then I need to use more approachable, descriptive and inclusive language.”
- CIOs Sound Off on Tech Buzzwords That Need to Go – The Wall Street Journal
- Ranked: The worst business buzzwords and corporate jargon – Preply
- People Who Lack Status Are More Likely to Use Jargon to Compensate for Their Insecurities – Columbia Business School
- The Hottest Business Buzzword of 2021 Says a Lot About the Kind of Year – Inc.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What buzzword or phrase do you find most overused at present? Would your general advice be to take advantage of their proficiency as a communication tool or limit their use?