5 jargon words and phrases to stop using right now

If there’s one thing I loathe, it’s fluffy business jargon.

Seriously, nothing can make my eyes roll harder or faster than words like “utilization” or “scalable.”

You may think you sound smart when you use words like these, but trust me: you don’t.

At best, you sound insecure. At worst, you sound untrustworthy (what are you hiding behind all those big words?).

Either way, you are definitely confusing people.

While you are “striving to endeavor to support the future success of partners,” readers are striving to understand what on earth you are talking about.

The truth is, most people outside your nearest network of smart and hip peers don’t know words like “synergistic,” or terms like “B2B.” And they don’t care either. They will let words like that sail right over their heads, and if you are really jargony, they’ll dismiss you entirely.

It’s one thing to use jargon (including acronyms and abbreviations) as short-hand office lingo. We’re busy people and it’s faster to write, “Send me those TPS reports by COB today.” But…the problem is that jargon inevitably finds its way to the public and before you know it, you’re “striving to endeavor before COB” in front of the whole world.

Here’s the thing: If a reader, no matter how literate, can’t understand you immediately, they aren’t going to spend much, if any, time trying. Their eyes will glaze over and then they will move on.

So, the moral of the story is: do yourself and your audiences a favor and eliminate all corporate-speak from your vocabulary.

Here are five words or phrases to cut ASAP:

1. Utilize

“Utilize” is not a fancy way of saying “use.” In fact, it’s a misuse of the word. Utilize means to take something and use it for something beyond its intended purpose. Use means employing a thing to reach a goal, regardless of the thing’s intended purpose. For example: “I used a sock to keep my foot warm,” versus “I utilized a sock to save my loose change.”

2. A lot of moving parts

Unless you’re talking about a pinball machine, say, “it’s complex.”

3. Strategic plan

Plans are inherently strategic, albeit some more so than others, so this is redundant.

4. Synergy

This aberration of word makes me think of bad, Internet Explorer graphics from the 90s. Say “working together,” or “collaborate.”

5. Scalable

Unless you’re selling boulders, the only thing you’ll do easily with this term is confuse your audience.


There are hundreds more awesomely bad buzzwords, so if I missed your favorite please leave me a comment below.

*BONUS* If you’re feeling particularly sassy about corporate jargon after reading this, check out the Corporate B.S. Generator.

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