You know what really grinds my gears? Meaningless expressions. In keeping with last week’s theme of “shit I don’t miss about the corporate world,” let’s talk about one of the most eye-rollingly, head-bashingly irritating aspects of Corporatelandia: business jargon. Businesspeople in general, and, from my limited two years’ experience, salespeople especially, speak their own language, and it’s a really fucking stupid language. I think, since they’re constantly selling something – whether themselves, their business, or their product – business types have learned that one way to shut out competition is to just never stop talking. Thus, they’ve developed all these weird, roundabout ways of saying things that make everything unnecessarily complicated; simple, one-word concepts often become clumsy, passive-voiced expressions, and meaningless idioms are tacked on to sentences for no discernable reason other than to maximize talking time. I honestly think business(people, but let’s be honest, mostly men) are literally just fighting to be the person with the most words coming out of his mouth.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most infuriating turns of phrase that have come out of this linguistic phenomenon. These are ranked by how much they make me want to punch things, or just the order in which I remembered them:
At the end of the day: This was once an innocuous little expression that I learned to loathe after hearing it, no exaggeration, seven times in one two minute span of time. Unless you’re saying “at the end of the day I’m going to take off my Corporate Pants and cry in the fetal position” this phrase is terrible.
From ____ perspective: Again, this one is just a way to squeeze more words into your sentence. I could say, “From my perspective you’re full of shit,” but why would I say that when “you’re full of shit” is so much more succinct?
Reach out: Please, just say contact, email, or call.
Touch: Similar to reaching out, but so much creepier. I remember listening to sales managers tell their teams that they should be “touching” their prospects several times a week and wondering, A) how they could say that with a straight face; and B) what the fuck are they teaching these people in sales training?
Dialogue: You mean talk? Yes, you mean talk.
Synergy: I honestly don’t even know what this means. Is it science? I’m pretty sure half the people who say synergy don’t know what synergy means.
Push back: When someone says no, and you won’t accept it. “They’re pushing back, but I think we can convince them.” A favorite of businesses and sexual harassers everywhere!
Brain dump / Data dump: Let’s just keep dumps out of the office, ok?
Circle back / Table a discussion / Put on the backburner: Why can’t you just say you’ll talk about it later? Why??? (Also, putting things on the backburner always bothered me in particular because there are frequently documents involved, and in my head I’m always like, “No, don’t put paper on any burners!!!” because I have no moron-thought filter.)
110%: Always a classic, and always mathematically impossible. Sales managers love to say this almost as much as tee-ball coaches.
Price point: Just say price, you jackass.
Gatekeeper: Ok, this one might have some linguistic merit (although honestly, you probably mean the receptionist; just say receptionist) but it always makes me think of, like, an old medieval man asking riddles at the castle gate or something, and I can’t take it seriously.
Limited bandwidth: I remember being in a meeting once where the topic of discussion was something along the lines of “we have too much shit to do,” and someone wrote that down as “limited bandwidth.” I almost butted in to assure them that, no, our network speed was fine, until I realized he meant that as an expression for our limited capacity to do things. Listen, for one thing, you can’t just usurp technological terms with concrete meanings and assign them other meanings; second, referring to your employees’ frustrations over workload as an IT problem is really dehumanizing and probably not the best way to inspire productivity.
Deep dive an issue: No thanks, but we can discuss it in depth if you’d like.
Corporate values: This is meaningless. Corporations can’t have values; they are not thinking, feeling entities. People can have values. Corporations are not people, despite what some members of our government insist.
Honorable mention: I have never heard either of these uttered in real life, but I did a quick Google search for annoying business jargon just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything especially rage-inducing and these two gems came into my life to piss me off for years to come.
Dehire: Seriously? Why the fuck wouldn’t you just say fire?
And, the most ridiculous sentence I’ve ever read –
Can I stir fry an idea in your think-wok?: Is this a joke? Please tell me no human has ever said this. I can’t believe one person said it, let alone enough people for it to be included on a list. Anyone who says this needs to be dehired immediately.