Horrible Corporate Jargon That Needs To Go Away Right Now (Part 2)
Choice expressions from LinkedIn and elsewhere that have roused this writer’s inner curmudgeon
As a full-time writer, I’m allowed to both be cantankerous — also know as having an “artistic spirit,” a wonderful euphemism if ever there was one — and to care deeply about words.
Recently, I shared my favorite words in the English language (I should have added the word for word-loving itself, logophilia, to the list):
Some of my favorite words in the English language
Despite the vicissitudes of the day, I managed to pull together this post. Please spare it your opprobrium.
Having contributed my monthly dose of positive thinking to the internet (I meter it out carefully, you know), I now feel that I am entitled to hate on those words that I don’t like. I’m sorry to say, but it’s probably a longer list.
My ever-evolving list of “most hated corporate jargon” is pulled from my daily interactions with the corporate world.
I last updated the list about a year ago so I figured that it could use a refresh and I chose a particularly sleep-deprived afternoon on which to do this public service (read: I’m cranky).
Here are some of the recent corporate-isms and pieces of jargon I’ve picked up that have been contributing to my ill-disguised rage at the corporate world.
(With thanks to both clients and my extended LinkedIn network — but especially my extended LinkedIn network — for this updated assortment)
Calling A Powerpoint Presentation A “Deck”
How did Corporate America reach the absurd point at which it became acceptable to refer to a presentation as a deck (I hear you ask)?
If you didn’t know, then let me tell fill you in on a fascinating part of technological history.
Back in the good ol’ days — back when children walked barefoot to school and the steamboat was the quickest way of getting between New York and London — people used to load a deck of slides into a physical projection device.
Now let me ask you a question:
When was the last time you saw a startup CEO stressing over whether slide 11 was in the right place or whether the projection lens might have a smudge on it?
Answer: you probably never did.
The device which we formerly relied upon to display “decks” is now obsolete.
I therefore say that the word deserves to be too.
Describing Your USP As Your “Purple Cow”
If a certain client ever encounters this blog post I will have to humble myself into apologizing and probably be forced to do away with their business.
But the truth is that I felt like hugging the person who left this comment on a Google Doc because it was truly one of the most outlandish examples of corporate jargon that I have ever encountered.
So puzzled I was by reference to the fact that “this is really our purple cow, Daniel” that I had to go off to the Google machine in order to try decipher was this cryptic reference might mean.
Putting my ignorance as a marketer on full show, I was embarrassed to see that the term’s etymology derived from a Seth Godin book by the same name. It was also the symbol of a chocolate brand (Milka) and the Google machine also indicates that there might really have once been a purple cow in Serbia.
In any event, the reference is a pretty self-explanatory metaphor. Your purple cow is your unique selling proposition (USP) — what sets you apart from the competition and makes you unique.
What’s your purple cow?
One can only ponder: Can an expression be both annoying and vaguely clever all at the same time? Does our relationship with words, and language, have to be strictly one-dimensional?
Leaving Meetings Due To A “Hard Stop”
What’s wrong with saying that you have to leave a call in 20 minutes?
Or that you have to see your optometrist at 17:30 and thus will be forced to deprive yourself of 30 more minutes of the monthly sales team Zoom meeting for that reason?
Perhaps because I’ve always been an aviation buff, talking about having a “hard stop” not only sounds like a way too dramatic way to say that you need a meeting to me, but it also brings to mind ground crews rolling out the chocks to make sure that a 747 doesn’t roll into the airport terminal building.
We have a “hard stop” coming up captain! Buckle in (to the Zoom call)!
“Jumping” On A Call
I find this particular one so absurd that I actually created my first ever meme in its honor, below.
I take calls.
If I’m feeling particularly energetic I’ll even turn on my webcam.
But under no circumstances do I “jump on” phone calls, whether they are held on Zoom or by the conventional things we used to hold up to our faces.
‘nuff said about this one.
Uttering The Words “Makes Sense?” At The End Of An Email
I think that “makes sense?” is actually a great example of how people all interpret language in their own (very) unique ways.
Language interpretation varies widely by culture, of course. But I reckon that personal sensibilities have an enormous amount to do with it too.
I say this because, having conducted a very unscientific straw poll of some friends, I was surprised to see that most people do not find the common end-of-email rejoined “makes sense?” to be in any way passive aggressive or annoying.
Personally, I interpret it as mildly demeaning and condensing — the kind of thing that you might say to a child who was grappling with the rudiments of arithmetic. When I receive an email that ends “makes sense?” I read into it a vaguely hectoring that questions whether I was intelligent enough to comprehend its contents.
I have noticed that others, however, detect no such malice in the expression and see it merely as a (polite) way to check whether the recipient has fully understood the message and to prompt them to ask a question if they don’t.
Another one in this category for me is to “have” somebody do something — an expression popular among Americans — which to me implies a servitude-like expectation that that person will do something on command and negates the fact that they have free will.Afterthought: Can an expression be both annoying and vaguely clever all at the same time? Does our relationship with words, and language, have to be strictly one-dimensional?
Even in the context of a relationship that involves subordination, I would instinctively reach for the term “ask” instead. But again, that’s probably just a reflection of how I interpret language. Or the fact that I’m a cranky writer.
What are your least-loved corporate words?