I took four years of French in High School and, if stranded on the Champs-Élysées today, I wouldn’t be able to order dinner. It’s not that I’m incompetent (not entirely), I just don’t use the language every day. Why? Because it’s not necessary for my environment and I can communicate easier by using a language that everyone around me understands. It’s the same reason that I cringe at catchphrases.
To make sure we’re “all on the same page”, a business catchphrase is a vogue expression, recreated into jargon. While it’s intended to make the speaker sound more “in the know”, it often ends up backfiring and disorienting the listener. In extreme cases, it makes the speaker sound like a tool. I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of phrases that have “run their course” and should be retired in an attempt to make office meetings clearer, business documents more intelligible, and colleagues better able to understand each other. Maybe one day, someone will publish a catchphrase rule book. Until then, we can only look to each other to safeguard our vernacular.
- “Right-sizing.” This is a media-friendly way of saying “we screwed up. It will cost some jobs, but not ours.”
- “It is what it is.” This often indicates that the respondent isn’t happy, and the speaker doesn’t care. Everyone hates this one.
- “We’ll take this offline.” If you want to create a bad vibe, use this generic phrase during a conference call. If you have to exclude people from certain information, don’t be a jerk by being hip about it.
- “Step up to the plate.” This is a good one for squeezing that last bit of productivity out of an employee. Also great for obliterating one’s self-esteem, much like…
- “Think outside the box.” By saying this, you are confirming that every idea this person has developed throughout the tenure of their employment has been, quite simply, stupid.
- “Ownable.” This is not even a word. Seriously, look it up. This is often used in branding presentations and sales pitches as a replacement for “charging more for no good reason”.
- “Not so much.” Exactly.
- “Version x.0”. This phrase is inherently dorky, yet necessary to tech-related products like software and devices. However, using it unnecessarily to promote a person, business, etc. magnifies the dork factor exponentially.
There’s my shortlist. Any that you can think of?