Working in an office means speaking the language of the business. The way leaders and employees communicate is important, and office workers often get stuck using the same words repeatedly. From "working synergistically" with co-workers to "streamlining" projects, there are some business buzzwords you hear in your workplace daily.
"Buzzwords seem to be contagious in office culture," said Summit Hosting's creative team. "Once you hear your boss or co-worker ask for the 'TL; DR' [too long; didn't read] version of your latest business decision or reply 'LOL' to a joke on Slack, that word immediately enters your vernacular."
However, business buzzwords can be confusing and overused. According to a survey conducted by Summit Hosting, 32 percent of employees are occasionally confused by office jargon and 8 percent of individuals will use buzzwords even if they have no idea what they mean.
"The use of buzzwords can be tiresome for many in the working world," noted Joe Weinlick, senior vice president of marketing at Nexxt. "[It] also has a tendency to muddle what should be clear, straightforward communication. That being said, [buzzwords are] impossible to avoid, and you're bound to hear them regularly."
Joel Klein, certified professional business coach and producer of BizTank, said there are terms that are specific to certain industries. Buzzwords come up often when you're trying to prove that you understand the language.
"These words get engraved into a company culture as well; one person begins to use them, then another and so on," he said.
Here are some of the worst words to use in a workplace and other buzzwords that are acceptable, according to the survey by Summit Hosting.
Jargon to avoid
The worst buzzwords to use are "LOL," "ping me" and "growth hacking." However, 47 percent of Americans said it's better to hear office jargon than to read it.
Sixteen percent of Americans believe using any form of jargon in the workplace may hurt their careers. While Summit Hosting didn't ask respondents why jargon rubbed them the wrong way, the study's authors believe it's because these words are made up.
"By overusing them, you could be making your co-workers feel like they need a special 'office dictionary' just to make it through an everyday conversation," said the Summit Hosting creative team.
Monitoring your use of 'acceptable' buzzwords
Using buzzwords can be acceptable and sometimes is the most effective way to get a point across. Also, it may help paint you as someone who is aware of what's going on, said Klein.
Summit Hosting's study found more than 25 "somewhat acceptable" buzzwords and phrases, which includes "internet of things," "piggyback," "take this offline," "paradigm shift," "organic," "ICYMI," "drill down," "DOD" and "in the driver's seat."
If you find yourself using buzzwords a lot, use some of the most acceptable words or phrases, recommends Summit Hosting. The most acceptable buzzwords include phrases such as "all hands on deck," "hold down the fort," "bandwidth," "transparency," "bells and whistles," "pick your brain" and "best practice."
For a list of buzzwords that are acceptable and those that are not, read the survey on Summit Hosting's website.
Smart communication practices
While the survey noted there are acceptable buzzwords, if you use any word too much, it becomes annoying to those around you. Klein also said using jargon that isn't effective makes it seem like you're hiding behind words or using buzzwords to fluff up a conversation to make yourself seem smarter.
Summit Hosting's creative team agreed: "Some of these phrases are unavoidable, but it's always important to make sure you communicate with your team in the most efficient and clear way possible," they wrote. "Sometimes that means cutting back on those confusing and abbreviations and acronyms."
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 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.
Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.