Don’t drink the Kool-Aid: Avoid business jargon

Words have power. But if you use needlessly complex words and phrases, they can lose their punch.

Don't drink the Kool-Aid: Avoid business jargonFor example, take a look at these business jargon and buzzwords and phrases: Actionable. Best practices. Bottom of the funnel. Buy-in. Circle back. Close the loop. Commoditize. Core competency. Deliverables. Drill down. Drink the Kool-Aid. Future-proof. Ideate. Leverage. Move the needle. Net-net. Paradigm. Scalable. Solutions provider. Top of the funnel.

Would someone outside a business environment know what all of these mean? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s one reason a movement is brewing to curb business jargon in favor of clear language, a July 11 article on Entrepreneur.com notes.

Business schools and investors are leading the charge, John Marcus writes. Investors want to easily understand pitches versus having to decipher them. Business schools have heard complaints that graduates lack good communication skills.

Business jargon can be insidious. “It’s easy to be co-opted by the vocabulary of the environment in which you’re working,” says Caron Martinez, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C., who works as a consultant during summers helping bank examiners at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. speak more simply. “You start to speak acronym-ese.”

Some people opt for jargon to try to sound smarter, the article notes. Or they enjoy feeling like they are part of a team that has its own language.

But using simpler language is always better, experts say.

“People are just starting to pay attention to this, finally,” says Mary Groves, a lecturer in business communication at the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno. “It’s not the point of communication to make yourself sound smarter; it’s about making yourself clearer so you can get what you want.”

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