02 Mar 2012

Tools for Turning and Grinding – My Nerves

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By Mike Magan

For those of us who like to write, words can be powerful weapons.

TPS reports anyone?

They can also serve as powerful nerve-grinding tools.

Forbes.com recently put together an outstanding list of 50 business phrases that should motivate you to bite your tongue before you utter them.

As I clicked through the list, I was sure that I would not be guilty of using a single one of them. But at the end of the day (on the list) I was.

Here’s a link to the irreverent (not on the list) piece: in photo-slideshow format. http://onforb.es/yMtzPZ

I hand-picked my favorites, and gave a reason why. All are funny, some are PAINFULLY funny since I’ve spewn (not a word at all) them myself.

Core Competency: This compound-awfulness refers to a firm’s or a person’s fundamental strength—even though that’s not really what the word “competent” means.

Buy-In: I have an idea! I didn’t involve you because I didn’t value you enough to discuss it with you.  I want you to embrace it as if you were in on it from the beginning, because that would make me feel really good.

Empower: This is what someone above your pay grade does when, apparently, they would like you to do a job of some importance. It’s also condescending as it suggests “You can do a little bit of this, but I’m still in charge here. I am empowering you.”

Open the Kimono: Some people use this instead of ‘revealing information.’ I’ve just always thought it’s kind of creepy with or without the ina-propro (teen slang for inappropriate) sexual overtone.

Bleeding Edge: Someone decided that his product or service was so cutting-edge that a new term needed to be created. It did not. Unless you are inventing a revolutionary bladed weapon – which some one of our clients could – leave this one alone.

Lots of Moving Parts: A Civil War- era pocket watch has lots of moving parts. Do you want your business to run, or even appear to run, like an antiquated device? Then do not say it involves lots of moving parts.

Corporate Values: This expression is so phony it makes me want to punch somebody. Corporations don’t have values, the people who run them do.

Best Practice: This refers to a method or technique that delivers superior results compared with other methods and techniques. It is also perhaps the single most pompous confection the consulting industry has ever dreamed up.

Solution: This word has come to mean everything from the traditional way to solve a mathematical proof to a suite of efficiency-enhancing software – and it is the epitome of lingual laziness.

Boil the Ocean: This means to waste time. The thinking here, we suppose, is that boiling the ocean would take a long time. It would also take a long time to fly to Jupiter, but we don’t say that. Nor should we boil oceans, even the Arctic, which is the smallest. It would be a waste of time.

Reach Out: Jargon for “let’s set up a meeting” or “let’s contact this person.” Just say that—and unless you want the Human Relations department breathing down your neck, please don’t reach out unless clearly invited.

Giving 110%: The nice thing about effort, in terms of measuring it, is that the most you can give is everything—and everything equals 100%. You can’t give more than that, unless you can make two or more of yourself on the spot, in which case you have a very interesting talent indeed.

Take It to the Next Level: In theory this means to make something better. In practice, it means nothing, mainly because nobody knows what the next level actually looks like and thus whether or not they’ve reached it.

It Is What It Is: Thaaaaaanks.

Now it’s your turn, What words would you add to the list? Are there any that don’t belong there? If you can’t think of one, this “jargon generator” can help: Please comment below!


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