Five Corporate Buzzwords We Need to Banish

Posted 06.14.2023

The words we use have power. The power to clarify and inspire as well as the power to confuse and annoy. When it comes to generating confusion, annoyance, and a lot of other negative emotions, commonly used corporate buzzwords have a special power all their own.

Here are five buzzwords that I’d like to nominate for banishment in favor of plain English alternatives.

Escalate – This one is a huge trigger for fear and loathing. It’s commonly used in sentences like, “We need to escalate this issue to the executive team.” A good plain English alternative would simply be “asking for help.”

Disrupt – In an era when everything can feel upside down, do we really need more disruption? A desire to disrupt the market often doesn’t consider the potential collateral damage. How about we quit talking about disrupting things and focus instead on just making things better?

Socialize – This one sounds like a lot of fun at first. Who doesn’t like a good conversation? Sadly, that’s not what it means. Instead, we’re encouraged to “socialize” ideas with colleagues to get their “buy-in.” How about we just share our ideas and ask for their ideas in return?

Ideate – Speaking of ideas, let’s resist the urge to turn nouns into verbs. (That’s a classic source of buzzwords, by the way.) Instead of getting the team together to “ideate”, why don’t we just do some brainstorming?

Disintermediate – This one can be so confusing I probably need to begin by using it in a sentence. Here goes: “We need to disintermediate our supply chain.” Still confused? You’re not alone. If, instead, I said, “We need to simplify our supply chain,” you’d be tracking with me, right? The sentences mean the same thing. The second one is just in plain English.

When we simplify our language and speak and write in words that most people use in everyday conversation, we make work more human. And maybe, that’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re interested in banishing buzzwords from your workday. If you wouldn’t talk about escalating a problem with your friends or family or ideating where you all want to go on vacation, consider not using those words at work. Keep it simple and keep it real.

What have I missed? What other buzzwords cause you to roll your eyes or grind your teeth? Leave a comment on LinkedIn or send me an email and let me know.

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