September 19, 2020

It’s Time To Retire the Useless Jargon

A reader sick of the clichés suggests we open the floor to discuss some overused phrases that should be retired immediately. Let's think outside of the box here, circle back and think big picture.

The use of the phrase "reaching out" should be immediately discontinued! It's old jargon that people are totally sick of hearing.

I doubt "reaching out" is the only business phrase that deserves to get tossed into the trash. There are a plethora of phrases that not-so-smart people recycle in emails and business conversations just to make themselves look like they have the slightest idea what they are talking about. Of course, most of us see right through it and realize that peppering your emails with played out phrases only makes one look clueless and unoriginal but hey, isn't that what business is all about?

What's up with this plate everyone has and why is there always so much on it? Let's just throw the phrase a lot on my plate right out the window and tell it like it is because there is no plate and even if there were, comparing a huge workload to a delicious meal doesn't even make sense. Having a lot on your plate is generally a good thing, unless you're already 350 pounds overweight and what you have on your plate is loaded with saturated fat.

Another overused phrase that should be put out to pasture and humanely shot in the head is touch base. Along the lines of "reaching out," it's played out, tired and could potentially open you up to a sexual harassment claim if used in an inappropriate context. What the hell does this even mean anyway? It basically means going back to where you were just to make sure you don't get tagged out as you round the bases – what good boss wants his people to go back and not forward? That's just stupid. Besides, the only people who compare business to baseball are creepy motivational speakers. Let's just stop already. While we're here, let's also throw circle back in the garbage can, it's another lame phrase that implies it's actually productive to chase your tail when you should be out there making money.

Specific to the subject matter of this website, I'd have to say the worst and most intentionally obtuse phrase is eating hours. For someone who doesn't know better, it sounds like the time you're allotted for lunch but as everyone here already knows, it's actually a really shady practice that will continue to thrive for as long as firms remain tied to the ridiculous idea of billable hours. And we'll throw in keywords like efficiency and utilization in there while we're talking about ancient and played out words and ideas that should have been thrown in Arthur Andersen's industrial-sized shredder years ago. The problem is that if firms were to call it what it really is – lying just to meet the budget – the practice would quickly go the way of the Dodo. And so, eating hours persists.

Of course, certain firm CEOs have their favorite phrases. Grant Thornton's Stephen Chipman can't get enough of dynamic… dynamic clients, dynamic opportunities, dynamic ad campaigns… enough already, bro. Someone buy this man a thesaurus!

Or how about PwC's Bob Moritz and his commitment to the phrase "the reality is" in this Fox Business interview he gave last month?

Gee, thank you, BoMo for telling us all about reality. Here we thought we were in the Matrix.

Need more lame phrases to cringe at? Check out this list of 89 business cliches that will get any MBA promoted and make them totally useless from Forbes.

Make it stop. Now.

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