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The Most Annoying, Pretentious and Useless Business Jargon

• Mallet, Brett Nelson, a

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or join a tiger team, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it.

If you have to ask why, chances are you’ve fallen under the poisonous spell of business jargon. No longer solely the province of consultants, investors and business-school types, this annoying gobbledygook has mesmerized the rank and file around the globe.

“Jargon masks real meaning,” says Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”

To save you from yourself (and to keep your colleagues and customers from strangling you), we have assembled a cache of expressions to assiduously avoid.

Glossary: The Most Annoying Business Jargon

We also assembled a “Jargon Madness” bracket – similar to the NCAA college basketball tournament – featuring 32 abominable expressions. Each day, for 32 days, readers will get to vote, via Twitter, on one matchup. The goal: to identify the single most annoying example of business jargon and thoroughly embarrass all who employ it and all of those other ridiculous terms, too.

Click here to cast your votes. Share the bracket with your friends and colleagues. With any luck, you’ll encourage a new best practice: real communication.

In the meantime, here are some of the worst offenders Forbes has identified over the years. For a full list of 45, click here.


1 Comments in Response to

Comment by McElchap
Entered on:

 Jargon is often used to obfuscate or hide the meaning of things to those not in the group employing such specialized language. This puts outsiders at a disadvantage, more vulnerable to predation, slick sales pitches, and con artists. Often it is just a verbal form of shorthand, used in a specialized area to abbreviate, or cut to the chase, a much longer enunciation employing simple common language. But in either case, it hides knowledge in professional isolation, and puts walls between people, barriers between management and labor, oppressors and the oppressed. Jargon causes us to ever more finely divided in quantitative analysis and linguistic confusion. Jargon is not healthy for civilization. Recall military jargon!

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