A friend sent a review for a book on unhelpful business jargon, titled, Who Touched Base in My Thought Shower: A Treasury of Unbearable Office Jargon by Stephen Poole.
Some of the prime offenders for the author Poole are; journey, back-fill, going forward, leverage, no-brainer, sunset (as a verb), workshop (also as a verb) and zero cycles – which is a new one on me. Zero Cycles is now used to explain our limited time. It works like this; How many time cycles do I have to spare? I have zero cycles, mate!’
Recently another friend told me that one of her reports refused to do something by saying, ‘I don’t have the bandwidth to help you right now.’ As Poole writes, ‘these are polite and groovily technical ways of saying: “Bugger off and don’t ask me again.”’
Thought shower is also a new one on me and apparently replaces brainstorm, which has now been deemed offensive by some people. (No, I don’t know who they are, but I just hope they never run the Social Club).
Another colleague loathes anyone telling him that they are reaching out when they are simply calling him on the phone. “And must they tell me they’re touching base when the words contacting or calling will do?”
Why, I wondered, did a contractor keep telling me he had ‘smashed it’ when referring to fairly mundane tasks he had just completed?
Clearly others share the cynicism about office language because versions of Buzzword Bingo have been in circulation for a while. Cards are easily drawn up if you wish to play. The idea is that you distribute slightly different cards to fellow insurgents before a meeting, or just play a card you’ve created in secret. You can call out ‘Bingo!’ as soon as you’ve drawn a line between words or phrases such as blame culture, synergy, mindset, best practice, ‘at the end of the day’ or value added. You could add even more squares to your bingo card with pivot, low hanging fruit, disruption, stepping up and thinking outside the box.
Please tell me, or ‘ping me’ your least favorite buzzwords or any new and annoying phrases you’ve heard creeping into the language of the workplace via zooming and hybrid work. Oops – there I go again.