Finance Finance News Reaching out on office phrases that grind teeth, going forward
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Reaching out on office phrases that grind teeth, going forward

Empty office desks.
Australian workers should avoid using needless office jargon going forward. Photo: Getty
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It was started by a friend touching base with an American survey of the allegedly most hated office jargon. 

Such surveys aren’t journalist game-changers, but they are clickbait no-brainers. I thought I’d leverage the synergies, run it up the flagpole and grab the low-hanging fruit.

Going forward, the first learning is that the American survey lacked Australian deliverables.

The most annoying phrase for American employees was “touch base”, scoring 24 per cent. Fair enough, but I suspect there’s little alignment after that with “no-brainer” and “punch a puppy” equal second-worst on 14 per cent.

“Punch a puppy”? It means having to do something that will be unpopular, like informing staff the corporation must be “agile at scale”, in turn meaning a lot of people are going to be sacked. We don’t punch puppies – we “right-size” or simply “bone”. (Yes, I once worked at Channel 9.)

Being agile and nimble and looking for quick wins, I actioned my suspicion via Twitter to mind map viable solutions.

My proactive Twitterverse drilled down and unpacked it.

A real deep dive, a root-and-branch review in this space for decisioning the new paradigm of office meeting jargon guaranteed to grind the teeth of anyone not in HR or marketing – and maybe even some of them.

I went on a best practice journey with my Tweeps, the issue quickly gaining traction as Twitter leaned in, pushing the envelope from the get-go. Thought leaders with skin in the game reached out to me, scaling up the optics of office jargon.

Wanting to syndicate the findings with all key stakeholders, I tried some blue sky thinking outside the box. Rather than take it offline to square the circle, I just put it out there to gain buy-in with a Twitter poll.

The interoperability worked and the passion was there with nearly 2,000 votes in a 12-hour poll, but internalising the value proposition was challenged by siloed vision – the Twitter platform only offered four choices.

A limited paradigm, but it is what it is, or was what it was. Anyhoo, one phrase shot the lights out.

Memo Everybody: If you say “going forward”, you’re a fool, a goose, a turkey, or, even worse, a politician.

And “reaching out” is retch-inducing as well, with one exception graphically provided by Andrew Bunn:

But at the end of the day, before we park that, I need to share several iconic offerings from Tweeps that weren’t brain stormed and should have been.

“Deep dive” and “unpack” copped blowback several times and “agile” featured more in comments than it’s third place in the poll might visualise.

As Kate Nancarrow put it: “Agile is gaining ground and anywhere obsessed with this usually has stand-up meetings at 9 am.”

“Let’s take it offline” also is code. Sharon Good wrote it “usually means let’s never speak of this again”.

Other suggestions that didn’t make my back-of-an-envelope poll but are bad for teeth:

  • Incentivise  – any made up word with ise added on the end
  • “Quantum” must be up there somewhere
  • Any sentence with the word “nascent”
  • Futureproof
  • “Checking in to see how you’re travelling”
  • Dead, buried and cremated – about which Darrell Morrison noted the confusing order

Sticks and stones might merely break your bones, but words can really hurt you, both the speaker and listener.

“As soon as ‘paradigm’ is mentioned, you know the rest of the sentence is BS,” warned Rob Farr.

And once jargon is allowed to multiply, it can become absolutely frightening, as a Tweep called @railmaps demonstrated:

At which point, one can only reach out to touch base with Roger Vaughan as he displays appropriate agility by unpacking going forward:

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