Having long been an advocate for clear, concise communication, i cringe every time i read or hear anything filled with high sounding, nonsensical bizspeak, jargon and cliches. Throw in acronyms for good measure.  Google the word Jargon and you will find several current and well written articles calling for a cease and desist of the current business jargon.  In fact it has become so boring that there is now jargon for jargon, "A Gong Show".  If you are not old enough to remember the Gong Show, it was a talent show where contestants who were painful and bad were cut off or their performance was followed by the sound of a gong.


The current opinion seems to be that people who have the need to fill their business discussions with jargon and cliches do so because they want to sound smart, with it, and in the know.  They use expressions like....get ready..."moving the needle", "bandwith", "hard stop" , "big footprint" , "multivate POV, "goat rodeo" (among close peeps substitute the f word for rodeo).  And the big one that if i hear it one more time i may scream.  "Strategic Execution".  Maybe like a lot of recruiters and new MBAs it's an attempt to make folks think that they have more value than those of us who prefer to speak and write in terms and words that everybody can understand.  Think about top CEOs, recognized business leaders, successful business people who are comfortable with their accomplishments and confident about their ability.  Most don't talk about "strategic execution"  because they don't believe in non strategic execution.  If they have 15 minutes for a phone call they don't announce that they have a "hard stop".  They simply say, i have another call scheduled at 2:00.


I noticed a "career consultant" on twitter telling new grads to add a section at the top of their resume that said, "Social Media Footprint".  Gong Show big time.  Most new grads need to go buy a new pair of shoes for an interview.  They haven't been around long enough to have a footprint of any kind.  Might work if they are in social media marketing or advertising but for the young accountant or engineer it's just flat stupid or for any professional at any level in my opinion.


I heard "multivate POV" for the first time last week.  I wasn't sure if that was a new job title or some foreign language.  One of my fellow recruiters saw the look on my face that indicates i am about ready to stop the discussion with one of my questions that starts out, "What the hell does that mean"?  He leaned over and whispered, "he means other opinions or multiple points of view".  I whispered back, "Gong Freak". "I would like to tell him to shove his POV in a strategic spot."


Cliches have been around long enough that most folks know what they mean but "herself" thinks they are just trite and take up "bandwith", if you will.  Things like:  "Low Hanging Fruit".  Now there is a tired old cliche.  One SVP of Sales recently used the cliche "We didn't exactly blow their skirts up" at a sales meeting.  One of the young ladies reported him to HR for using sexual remarks at the meeting.  Who woulda ever thunk that one?


Recruiters had to come up with a bunch of their own that make no damn sense and take up space not to mention, in my opinion, making themselves look like adolescent wannabes.  My pet peeves in our industry are:

"Branding to Talent"...Are you trying to say attract good people to my company?

"Value-Add recruiting"....as opposed to ?

"Strategic Expertise Managing Human Capital"...Gobbledygook - nonsensical garbage phrase.


What are your pet peeves in the land of Jargon that make you want to roll your eyes and scream.  GONG SHOW?


How about instead of fouling up our language with jargon we communicate in clear concise understandable words and terms that indicate we don't have some insecure need to impress anyone with how smart we are by sounding stupid.


In my world Gobledygook, jargon and cliches are, well, "One of those dogs that caint hunt."



Views: 954

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 28, 2011 at 5:55pm

Bottom line, at the end of the day, we should probably go offline and dialogue telephonically.  We need to blamestorm re who missed the mark causing the commoditize of the deliverables.  Might require that we decentivize those who failed to close the loop.


"What a mess, i will call you later to talk on the phone about who didn't do what they were supposed to do that caused our new product to be just another mouse trap and if we need to fire them or just cut the bonus."


We are coming out before the end of the year. 


"We are taking the company public".  Would you really say, We are coming out of being a privately held company.  Pre IPO was bad enough ,sort of like being pre pregnant.

Comment by Yonica S.Pimentel on January 28, 2011 at 7:31pm
Sometimes people rely on these jargons / cliches like a crutch in attempt to sound important, however it has the opposite affect. Clear communication is always the key to winning a listening ear.
Comment by Pamela Bovaird on January 30, 2011 at 11:48am
In the Engineering world they often times come up with jargons as a new word for the type of project they are working on.  Oftentimes these jargons have sexual innuendos.  As long as they are not degrading I kind of like that.  But usually do have to ask someone what it means or Google it.  If we did not have Google I would sometimes not know what a job order is referring to.  Maybe this is their way of shutting those out that are not qualified for the job.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 30, 2011 at 12:40pm
There is relevant jargon in most segments that fall more under the category of industry buzz words. People working in or trained in those industries many times use industry specific acronyms as do recruiters working in those industries. Those buzz words may be less offensive as they are specific to an industry but , for instance, we use TPR, meaning third party recruiter. The general public,many candidates, as well as hiring managers, have no idea what TPR means. If we could just bring ourselves to say independent recruiter, agency recruiter or even retained recruiter most of the general public would understand the meaning.

Turning nouns into verbs seems to me to be a phony trend that sounds ridiculous, ie; "let,s dialog about that offline".

I heard one yesterday that may be the height of "gong show". In answer to my question as to why I had not heard from an HR contact, I was told she had been "de-peered". Seriously, is that the new term for fired or terminated or has she been sent to an island somewhere with no contact with the outside world? "(major eye roll,followed by the thought dear God, what next?)

Good point, Pam, about jargon that is specific to an industry.
Comment by Michael Stoyanoff on January 31, 2011 at 10:13am

I remember when I was the certified class teacher for new servers at Olive Garden. It was very amusing to me how much jargon is used in the world of restaurants. The new recruits would look at me like I was crazy when I used terms like


"86"- Means we are out of something

"Cut"- Means you are no longer taking tables and finishing up to leave

"Pivot"- Tray to Table Positioning


I could go on forever. Finally, I had to make a list with all the common ones to hand out to the trainees.


People pick up jargon all the time in their environment, and it's fascinating how many don't even realize it.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 31, 2011 at 6:42pm

It's everywhere like a giant word salad full of unidentifiable gobbledygook.  The Wall Street Journal has added a column called "Word Craft".  Alexander McCall added an interesting comment when he was guest poster.  He opines that messing around with too many adjectives ruins strong effective communication.

Example from Mr. McCall's post:

"Take the bible for instance.  "Let there be light, and there was light."  "If the bible had said, "Let there be light, and there  was a sort of matutinal, glowing phenomenon that slowly transfused, etc.” No, that doesn’t work."

Comment by Valentino Martinez on February 4, 2011 at 12:45am

While Jargon and acronyms can have downsides (I’ll mention one experience), they can also be helpful and even hilarious--e.g., recalling the exchange between Adrian Cronauer, a character comedian Robin Williams played in the movie, Good Morning Vietnam  [Lt. Steven Hauk uses Army jargon to refer to a press conference to be given by former Vice-President Nixon]
Adrian Cronauer: "Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P., shouldn't we keep the P.C. on the Q.T.? 'Cause if it leaks to the V.C. he could end up M.I.A., and then we'd all be put out in K.P."

To me, being ex-military, this string of acronyms was creatively applied, made sense and was funny.  That said, while jargon and acronyms can be tedious and over-done, they can also have a benefit when it condenses communication to short and sweet understandings between people who speak the same language.  The help a conversation cut to the chase. 


On the other hand there can be potentially dangerous fallout from misunderstood jargon and acronyms.  True story (not that I have to qualify when I'm telling the truth, but here it's important to set the tone)--I know first hand of an incident that actually took place many, many years ago at the famous Washington D.C. PR firm--Hill and Knowlton.  A manager asked a newly hired Office Assistant to "burn" (xerox) a document for him.   The assistant was momentarily confused, but decided to go ahead do what she was told and burned the document as instructed.  Go figure.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 4, 2011 at 12:01pm


Hilarious on both sides.  Thanks for great examples of the good, bad and ugly.

Comment by Al Merrill on February 4, 2011 at 1:08pm


        You write the most interesting and attention-getting posts of anyone I've read on these many pages! I think it must be the hat! Stunning!


Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 4, 2011 at 1:53pm

Thank  you for a very nice comment Al.  Maybe it's being old enough and/or independent enough to both wear hats and say outloud (in print) what most sane people are thinking ,so they think it's funny  and interesting when somebody just says it.  My take is that if we can't laugh at ourselves ,who can we laugh at?

(There goes that ending a sentence with a preposition again, my journalism prof. is somewhere mumbling about those damn Texans who can't end a sentence correctly).


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