Working in an office means speaking the language of business. Whether it's learning to "streamline" or "work synergistically," the way business leaders and employees communicate about what goes on is important.
"I think that employees often try to emulate the company leaders, so if they hear a word or phrase being used, they will often adopt it themselves to fit into the culture and align themselves with leadership," said Brian McClusky, human resources director at InkHouse PR. "Sometimes, this can occur unconsciously."
McClusky said buzzwords can be a way to create a common language in the workplace and help to foster collaboration and a sense of belonging to the team. But they also can be overused or misused to the point of becoming meaningless, or even an internal joke. [See Related Story: Common Communication Failures and How to Fix Them]
Commonly used phrases
According to Accountemps, human resources managers cited the following as common (but annoying) buzzwords in the modern workplace:
- Deep dive
- Employee engagement
- Think outside the box
- At the end of the day
- Circle back
Change your approach
Not everyone is impressed with buzzwords. Using them can be irritating for co-workers who hear them on a constant loop.
"The use of buzzwords can be tiresome for many in the working world," said Joe Weinlick, senior vice president of marketing at Beyond.com. "They also have a tendency to muddle what should be clear, straightforward communication. That being said, they're impossible to avoid, and you're bound to hear them regularly."
"Nearly everyone uses buzzwords from time to time, but entrepreneurs are increasingly evaluated on their ability to communicate," added Bill Driscoll, district president of Accountemps. "Avoiding overused terms, particularly in formal communication, can help to effectively convey messages."
Driscoll noted that the best communicators use clear and straightforward language that directly illustrates their points.
"Clarity is king when communicating in the workplace," he said.
In a QuickBooks blog post, author Tim Parker suggested thinking like an editor: If a word or phrase doesn't deliver specific details, it's probably not making much of an impact, he wrote. Consider replacing or omitting it. Thesaurus.com and the thesaurus tool in Microsoft Office are incredibly useful, Parker wrote. Pick a simple, less overused, more descriptive synonym from the list. It only takes seconds to make your words sound fresh.