As much as we love business improvement at AccelaWork, we probably despise business buzzwords more than anything. A hilarious editorial points out the serious problem with business clichés.
The piece appears on Forbes, and warns about the dangers of using these phrases:
We all laugh at how the managers in Dilbert or on the The Office constantly spew cliches that don’t seem to mean anything. But those parodies shed light on a basic truth: some tired management cliches will impress enough people that they’ll probably help you get promoted to middle management.
Here are some of the best, along with “translations” from writer Eric Jackson:
Let’s circle back to that/Let’s put that in the parking lot/let’s touch base on that later/let’s take this off-line = Shut up and let’s go back to what I was talking about
We think outside the box here/color outside the lines = We wouldn’t know about how to do something innovative if it came up to us and bit us in the behind
I/we/you don’t have the bandwidth = Since we cut 60% of our headcount, we’re all doing the job of 3 people, so we’re all burned out
This is where the rubber meets the road = Don’t screw up
Let’s take the 30,000 foot view… = I like to think I see the big picture
I want you to run with this = I just threw you into the deep end of the pool and you’re on your own to figure it out
We’ve actually covered ridiculous business jargon before on The Methodology Blog. And while it’s a lot of fun to read these kinds of lists, the use of stock phrases illustrate a more serious issue: we tend to communicate by parroting, rather than by thinking.
If you catch yourself “circling back” to “best practices” when it comes time to “drill down” and “make the donuts,” it might be time to “take a step back.”
Instead, try figuring out what you really want to say. And if you don’t know, consider just being honest. It’s okay if you don’t know. And it’s likely that people will appreciate you more if you speak with your own voice rather than one that you’ve heard countless times before.