I have two full-time jobs: mothering and writing. Interestingly enough, they both require me to watch my language.
I’m not the only one who should be watching my language at work. You should be, too. I make a living off of words, so I am familiar with which ones are the good ones. There are some words and phrases in use in offices all around the world today that are not doing anybody any favors. In fact, I would argue if you use any of the following words at work on a regular basis, you might be a tool.
Language You Should Never Use at Work
Work hard; play hard. When I sold mobile phones (not a career highlight, I might add), I had a manager that said this one a lot. It was long enough ago that if you are still saying it, you are definitely not trending. The phrase implies you are working all your waking hours during the week and likely to drop out of a helicopter with some form of waxed wood attached to your feet all weekend. Frankly, I’m exhausted just describing you. Everyone needs downtime—even Mr. or Mrs.-Headed-to-the-emergency-room-again-this-week. Take yours so you can be useful at your job.
Efficacious. This word bugs me so much I can’t even come up with funny things to say about it. Say effective for the love of Pete, and spare me the ridiculous-sounding derivation. You don’t sound smart; you sound idiocious.
Stretch goal. Forgive me if I misunderstood the definition of the word goal, but I was under the impression that all goals are a stretch, hence the reason it’s a goal. The word stretch is redundant. Or perhaps stretch goal implies this goal is the one for those that want to accomplish something…you know, the work hard, play hard set. The regular old goal must just be for the poor schlep that goes to the store on Saturdays and does some laundry instead of jetting to Spain and running with the bulls in Pamplona.
Utilize. Please just say use instead. Sure it’s common and monosyllabic, but it’s enough. Every letter more than three that talks about the “use” of something subtracts 15 points from your IQ.
Synergy. I’ll bet dollars to donuts you don’t know what this word means so don’t use it. Good luck Googling it, too. According to my search, it means that a group has exceeded the ability of its most capable member. It is also stated to be difficult if not impossible to achieve. In fact, my source compares it to a Chimera or a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology.
My guess is you don’t want that thing around the office. Besides, the second definition of Chimera is “something that exists only in the imagination and is not possible in reality.” So if you are talking about Synergy earnestly at work, it’s the equivalent of talking about Big Foot like it’s a real thing.
Listen, I know that jargon is just part of living around other people. I understand it better than most. That’s why I use the word “potty” with no sense of irony most of the time, even when the children aren’t around. Not to mention the majority of my day is spent avoiding jargon inappropriate for the little ears around my office.
We also know there are some words that certain people just can’t pull off. Take, for example, the word posse. I never call any of my mom friends “my posse.” I am neither a rapper nor a sheriff hunting for a fugitive. I can’t use the word without sounding like a dip wad. So I don’t.
There are some words we all need to let go of in emails, PowerPoint presentations, and conference room banter. They make you sound awkward and in some cases, idiocious. So save your slang for the break room posse. When it comes to work, we all need to watch our language.
So what do you think? What are some corporate speak words that make us sound like dip wads? I’d love to hear them in the comments.