IT Employment optimize

Most despised corporate buzzwords

Do you have a particular buzzword that you hate? Here's a whole list of them!

CareerBuilder asked 5,000 workers to choose the buzzwords they hated the most. I thought the list was interesting because I cannot believe anyone with half a brain and/or an ounce of self-respect would continue to use these terms. Anyway, here are the top terms employees despise:

  • Outside the box (31%)
  • Low-hanging fruit (24%)
  • Synergy (23%) (This one I can't believe. People still say this?)
  • Loop me in (22%)
  • Best of breed (19%)
  • Incentivize (19%)
  • Mission-critical (19 %)
  • Bring to the table (18%)
  • Value-add (17%)
  • Elevator pitch (16%)
  • Actionable items (15%)
  • Proactive (15%)
  • Circle back (13%)
  • Bandwidth (13%)
  • High level (10%)
  • Learnings (9%)
  • Next steps (6%)

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

621 comments
jackbrill
jackbrill

I am 48 years old. I remember some 26 years ago, almost puking at my first real big-corporate meeting (3M) when I first heard the disgusting phrases, "think outside the box", "paradigm shift" and "let's noodle this one through". From TechRepublic's list, however, I cannot believe we've missed this one: "Moving forward". Everyone is always moving forward, particularly the idiots at Northland Aluminum/Nordicware ("Home of The Bundt Pan"), who so often forget the past and continue their failures in present time. "Moving forward" is a disgusting buzzphrase as well because of its use by pseudo-thinkers. We all know the type: they're the ass-kissers at meetings who enthusiastically nod their heads in agreement to whatever person above them on the food chain is drooling at the time. They love to "move forward", and present themselves as true critical thinkers, but it's impossible to rise above the levels of their own incompetence. The best adaptation of this phrase, however, came from the Prince of All Idiots, a one KC @ Nordicware, who degraded the 'move forward' milieu to the ultimate when everything became......wait for it......"On a moving-forward-basis". Egad. And remember, these people procreate AND take our air.

joshmont_3
joshmont_3

Spine-less employees recite buzzwords to please the bosses that created this mess. I hate it so much that I created a blog titled www.talkliketheboss.com to help the poor souls that have to figure out what this all means.

willis0966
willis0966

There are too many buzzwords in use - period! People tend to use buzzwords to either appear "in-the-know" (which I also despise) or to try to impress someone in the audience be it in person, email or blog. Some of the most over-used buzzwords are: Bandwidth Control group Dynamic Empower Event horizon Outside the box Paradigm Proactive Win-win You people that use these words: STOP!!! Try using normal words to convey your thoughts. When I hear "outside the box" I immediately start looking for something to wipe up the blood coming out of my ears. Remember: be proactive. Invent a new paradigm. Think outside the box. And most of all, you must find a new way to empower your control group. It will be a win-win situation for us all.

viProCon
viProCon

I won't waste time reading the other 614 posts but two items that I am tired of are "on the ball" and "elephant in the room". I really hate those phrases. Also, not a specific phrase but something I always chuckle at are the "Michael talkers". If you watch The Office, you'll understand what I mean here. I was on a recent Symantec webcaset and enjoyed this guy who I'm sure thought he was Michael himself. "How do we want to tackle this? Well, here's how we do it" "What are the issues facing us today? Well, here they are.". Now if they only threw a few "that's what she said"'s into the business lingo I think the workplace would be much more entertaining. Corporate, you need to get on it. That's what she said.

sermic
sermic

What about "I Get It." Do you really?

hawc
hawc

Did you find everything?

jacob3273
jacob3273

Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in their 1960 movie, "The Apartment." Most memorable catchphrase: "That's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise." It was funny, but we should have seen it coming.

AES2
AES2

You "cannot believe anyone with half a brain and/or an ounce of self-respect would continue to use these terms." There is a reason Dilbert is one of the top comic strips in the country. Even without pointy hair, half a brain is too much to be expected in many corporate environments.

EinarCarstensen
EinarCarstensen

In Denmark several collaborators were shot efter WWII.

denkile
denkile

YOU "NEED" TO meaning "you had better or else" generally arbitrary, without reason, and an ego "need"; with threat of punishment implied; and not a real need or necessary condition.

mdex
mdex

The word inane comes to mind every time I hear a business leader talk of how their company will improve on mistakes of the past... 'going forward'. In business process, everything goes forward or stops - so the term is meaningless.

albot
albot

Getting into the holiday spirit, I would suggest turning from despising the buzz words to making fun of them. Over 40 years ago, Phillip Broughton published an article ???How to Win at Wordsmanship??? (Newsweek magazine, 1968). He suggested a Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector, a three-column table with 30 words (see below). The use is simple. Think of any random three-digit number, and then select the corresponding buzzword from each column. For example, number 911 produces "balanced organizational flexibility" a phrase that can be dropped into virtually any report or presentation with a flavour of decisive knowledgeable authority. The claim was that ???No one will have the remotest idea of what you're talking about, but the important thing is that they're not about to mention it.??? (Was it the first buzzword bingo?) Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 0. integrated 0. management 0. options 1. total 1. organizational 1. flexibility 2. systematized 2. monitored 2. capability 3. parallel 3. reciprocal 3. mobility 4. functional 4. digital 4. programming 5. responsive 5. logistical 5. concept 6. optional 6. transitional 6. time-phase 7. synchronized 7. incremental 7. projection 8. compatible 8. third-generation 8. hardware 9. balanced 9. policy 9. contingency Source: http://www.acronymfinder.com/buzzgen.asp Even half a century later, the phrases produced with the Projector sound convincing (and funny). However, an update was needed to reflect contemporary business vocabulary. Lately, the initial table got a complete overhaul: all words were renewed, total of 45 terms are available now. That allows for easy construction of more than 3,000 modern and powerful phrases. A table below is a sample showing the first three rows of the revitalized buzz phrase generator. Complete table can be found at: http://www.gsrc.ca/buzzword.htm Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 1. collaborative 1. authoritative 1. stewardship 2. holistic 2. sustainable 2. governance 3. cohesive 3. agile 3. synergy

kjohnson
kjohnson

When someone said "wake up call" on the Radio Four News at one o'clock I found myself screaming in excruciating agony for several hours. A wake up call is not an alarm bell, a warning siren, a red alert or any other of the dozen metaphors that could have been used to better effect and more accurately to boot. A wake up call is a routine morning alarm, like a clock chiming.

chris.leeworthy
chris.leeworthy

I hate being 'tasked' with things. Ask me to do something, ask me to carry out a task but please don't 'task' me. Oh and while I'm at it, what about that atrocious psuedo-word 'Organagram' used for organisational diagrams I hate that kind of guff. It gets into job titles too, any idea what a 'solutions lead' does? I'm still trying to work it out.

jacob3273
jacob3273

Any words created out of whole cloth as opposed to having been found in the dictionary in terms of its existence or proper usage. Examples would include a point that's "very key" or ingenious creations such as "impactful." Another one I am tired of is referring to meetings as "circling the wagons." Or maybe I'm just tired of meetings.

nebojsa.zlatkovic
nebojsa.zlatkovic

one of my favorite, to refer to "something" in telecom world

Luffchylde
Luffchylde

What, exactly, does this mean anyway? Too much Corporate-Speak (I even hate the WORD buzzword, lol)!

LeonBA
LeonBA

...is "world class ___________", especially "world class customer service", which is usually heard from companies who want to *talk* about providing superior service in place of actually providing it.

willis0966
willis0966

In my opinion, people who use buzzwords want their audience to think they are smart or witty. To me, they come across as though they're unable to use standard English to express an idea or plan. When the opportunity presents itself, I like to ask, "Exactly what do you mean when you say, 'outside the box?' " You get my drift...

jcarullo
jcarullo

This was fun - probably the only time seeing these terms is enjoyable. Some of my personal favorites were missing, however. The _____ Team (Fill in as needed. Isn't everyone on the same team?) Reach out (sounds more high-fallutin' than "contact") At the end of the day (isn't that when everyone goes home) Our challenge (sounds MUCH more difficult than "problem") Bullet points (harder hitting and more concise than "actionable items")

todd_dsm
todd_dsm

I know this isn't a common one but when I was doing QA work, the goofies (pm, dev manager, reqs guys) would change something mid-stream. They knew we would want to test those changes later and they got tired of hearing that. At some point throughout the project, they preemptively began looking at one-another sternly, chirping the words "smoke test" at one another, looking around the room with raised brow, "smoke test?" nodding at one another in confirmation, "yeah, we'll need another smoke test". Then they would all turn to us (QA) and say,, "we're gonna need another smoke test for that". Everything got a smoke test. Watching this scene from the outside was disturbing.

vbalagot
vbalagot

Howzabout "teachable moment" and "it is what it is"?

jmkc
jmkc

Have you noticed that those who use and overuse "reach out" usually don't "deliver"?

jmkc
jmkc

Haven't seen this mentioned yet. I'm not PC or a pacifist, but I cringe when I hear this one.

Martastik
Martastik

Younger readers may not be aware of this, but before it was a business buzzword, 'Synergy' was first track on the legendary album 'In Gorbachev We Trust' by 1980/90's rave group, the Shamen.

lhAdmin
lhAdmin

The only thing measurable when I hear that word is the amount of steam coming out of my ears!

waytoobusyforthisnonsense
waytoobusyforthisnonsense

My skin crawls when I hear it used as a verb....where did THAT come from - This will 'impact' us greatly....NO....that's like saying 'this car needs washed' - GRRRRR

jacob3273
jacob3273

I'm not that into the corporate scene these days, but a couple of buzzwords we've heard for some time now from those wishing to wax political and cause me to want to heave are "at the end of the day" and someone's getting "thrown under the bus."

Geoff_Hoare
Geoff_Hoare

When I was over in the U.S back in May, I noticed that everybody was "reaching out" to everyone else. When and where did that start? It's even made its way across the Atlantic to us in the U.K now.

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

I really hate the way everyone of a certain level in my business latches on to whatever buzzy phrase vendors or our owners are throwing around in meetings so they can sound like they know what they're talking about. It's embarrassing. Seems from this lot I'm not alone - good to know :) My absolutely most hated phrases that are still being thrown at me have to be (and some of these have already been mentioned: "At the end of the day....." "It is what it is" "Going forward..." "It's all gravy" "Shoot for the moon" "Big bang approach" but my absolute pet hate, the phrase that makes me hang up on vendors and cancel their contracts with extreme prejudice is: "I just wanted to touch base with you" AAAARRRRRRRAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! This is the UK - nobody really understands baseball analogies here!

torytashian
torytashian

Make the ost outof our next meeting: Buzzword bingo (also known as Bullshit Bingo)[1] is a bingo-style game where participants prepare bingo cards with buzzwords and tick them off when they are uttered during an event, such as a meeting or speech. The goal of the game is to tick off a predetermined number of words in a row and then yell "Bingo!" My most disliked word - "Metrics"

Farfignewton
Farfignewton

Our "leadership" is full of Neanderthals - and possibly even dinosaurs. Here are the most hated catchphrases, some used incorrectly. "play bigger" "put the monkey on his/her back" (organizational meaning to dump problems on usually a manager's back without offering solutions, but generally used to refer to an addiction of some kind) "personal accountability" (something expected of underlings, but not of overlords) "operate above / below the line" "ethical behavior" (something expected of underlings, but not of overlords) "work smarter" (something expected of underlings, but not of overlords) There are countless more. Perhaps I can't remember them simply because I'm blocking them entirely. (Gag!)

C
C

*SHUDDER!*

0zymand1a5
0zymand1a5

Outcomes - ugh! If I see/hear it one more time I will probably scream. I can remember a time when we used to say "results" nice, short, simple and effective communication. Outcomes is an aggravating and pretentious word, and in my opinion completely redundant. Ringfence - I can't quite remember when this first emerged, and although it does prompt quite a distinctive mental image, I have many useful conventional words in my vocabulary to define the same concept. I believe isolate, segregate, and define would all serve instead. Hard drive. Don't get me wrong - I don't mind HDD or hard disk drive. The usage that I find repugnant (and also aggravatingly confusing to users) is the term "hard drive" used to describe the system unit of a computer. In situations where an ill-informed user contacts support teams and tells them that "the hard drive crashed" in an attempt to seem tech savvy, what they are really saying is that something within the PC has broken, which could be any one of the many components within the system unit itself - or perhaps even the O/S or software. Use of the term "hard drive" should be severely discouraged, and users should receive basic computer courses to enable them to correctly identify basic units of a computer system.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

This one gets on my nerves, because, as anyone who ever owned multiple cats knows, it's actually quite easy to herd cats. All you need is a can of tuna, and a can opener. They all come a runnin' once they hear the sound, and/or smell the smell.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

"I get it" actually means "Shut up about this, already. I'm tired of hearing about it. If something bad comes of it, you're going to get blamed anyway."

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

The two states you describe aren't the only states I have observed during my time in IT. Frequently I've seen things 'taking a step back' or 'reverting to an earlier state'

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

Surely this whole collaborative sustained effort by our agile community to come up with an authoritative and holistic exploration of the most impactful very key bleeding edge terminologies to describe our businesses in a way that, going forward, can improve our descriptive measures to improve our understanding of the key metrics within the paradigm within which we are operating is meaningful in and of itself? Once we have agreement on our most key phrasologies our challenge will be to bullet our results. My only roadblock here is I can't work out which one of us to task with this action......

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Sounds like "organ" + "anagram". E.g., heart => earth, lungs => slung, brain => in bra (mostly for men), etc.

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

.......go back a few pages and play BS bingo or acronym alphabet. Two ways to stay attentive in any idiot infested, buzzword heavy meeting. :)

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

The operative word there is 'world'; when you're told that, it means that 'customer service' is in Sri Lanka or Pulau Penang, and is reading from a script in English.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

It usually means that the cat missed it again, and I have to clean it up. This is also often the case when people think outside of said "box."

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

"Having flopped the nuts in the cut-off, she was in a good spot to sandbag. Resisting the urge to shove, she smooth-called the flop and turn (leading two fish to overvalue their hands); and didn't pull the trigger until the river."

Geoff_Hoare
Geoff_Hoare

I was at a meeting in Lonon yesterday and heard the "thrown under the bus." three or four times over the course of the afternoon. (Just thought I'd run this up the flagpole and see how it flies.)

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Mine won't eat canned food of any kind, tuna, or pet food. He will sniff it, then lick the meat a couple of times then turns his nose up at it. The only exception was when he had an infected tooth.

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

That's funny - thanks for sharing that one. Not being a poker fan I've not heard that sort of talk in that context before. Anyone else know any other sports-driven moo-poo buzzwords and phrases?

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

In true corporate fashion, seeing how you have demonstrated some sort of familiarity with the task at hand you have just volunteered to do the bullets :) Ahh.....those who 'stick their head above the parapet' always suffer from the 'shoot the messenger' approach . gawd - what's wrong with me?? I just can't stop myself!!! :)