Fortune.com columnist Annie Fisher made me alternately laugh out loud and cringe with her list of Business Buzzwords That Make You Gag — the most annoying business phrases solicited from her readers.
You would cringe, too, if you happen to find one or more of your own favorite words or phrases in the list. Be forewarned.
On the other hand, if you’ve been just itching to use some of these words you thought to be the “in thing,” — don’t!
Topping what Fisher calls the Most Annoying Lingo Awards (Mallies) is “Any phrase—uttered by any businessperson at all, at any time, for any reason—that contains the word ‘vision.’”
In second place is the use of “bandwidth” to refer to people, as in saying “adding bandwidth” instead of “hiring people.”
Coming in third, and also nominated by more than a hundred readers, are the phrases “new paradigm” and “paradigm shift.”
Following, in receding order of notoriety, are the other nominees:
One off. As in, “You and I will talk about this one off, after the meeting,” meaning, privately.
Value proposition. No one seems to know what it really means.
Cheerleader. Calling oneself a cheerleader for a project or goal at work brings on not very seemly visions of high school.
On the same page. We’re all on the same page on this one, I think.
Circle back. As in, “I’m just circling back to you on this,” meaning that person has been pestering you about it.
Keep me posted or I’ll keep you posted. Not unless you really mean it.
Bleeding edge. As in, “bleeding-edge technology.” Again, this brings on not-very-nice visions.
Radar screen. As in, “I’d like to get on your radar screen for a meeting next week.” Sounds like juvenile role-playing.
There is no “I” in “team.” Doesn’t inspire team spirit anymore.
Ping. As in “I’ll ping you on this when I hear back from legal.” Ouch!
Reference. As in, “Please reference page 12 in your training guide” instead of just saying “refer to.”
Thought leader. As if.
Mission-critical. Again, juvenile role-playing.
Core competencies. Overused.
Win-win. Sounds too glib.
Going forward. A reader asks “What else would we do? Go back in time?”
Touch base. Reader Bill G’s comment had me in stitches: “I don’t want to touch anyone’s base. It sounds as if it would lead to a sexual harassment lawsuit.”
Hit the ground running. Okay already.
“Isn’t this cool?” We’ve heard enough of this from Paris.
“At the end of the day…” This has always sounded like a clich鮍
No-brainer. Enough said.
A challenge or an issue, when used instead of what is really a problem.
Shooting someone an e-mail or firing off an e-mail. Sounds too violent.
Bottom line, meaning take it or leave it.
Okay. That’s the list. Now can we negotiate? I admit that even I will find it hard to let go of some of these convenient buzzwords. They have become like some sort of shorthand. So how else are we to call core competencies?
On the other hand, knowing that a lot of your potential readers will find your choice of words despicable is enough to get any writer busy looking up alternatives. Thanks for the heads up, Annie!