10 popular business buzzwords we love to hate

We all say we love to hate business buzzwords, clichés and jargon, but do we actually know why  we love to hate them?

10 popular business buzzwords we love to hate After all, words and phrases only become clichés because they are used a lot. Ostensibly, they fill a need to express a common thought we are all sharing at around the same time, so they actually they are useful.

However after a while some of them become toxic. And here are some thoughts about why that should be, in no particular order. For example…

1.Passionate – such a lovely word when it meant all things romantic and lustful. But applied to plumbing and software development (and yes, I have seen it used in both contexts) … hello? Unless these business people have very strange ways of becoming aroused, passionate  they ain’t. Precursor to passionate  was committed, if you recall. I would need more than my own fingers and toes to count the number of clients who said to me in the 1990s or so that “the difference between us and our competitors, Suze, is that we are committed.” Today the same people would say the difference is because they are passionate  about what they do. Well meant, of course, but horribly diluted by the sheer inanity, now, of the two words concerned.

2.Revolutionary – what? The true meaning of this word is all about political and/or religious struggles that inevitably end in death and destruction and misery for thousands or more. There is nothing whatsoever revolutionary  about the invention of a better-functioning can opener. However words/phrases that truly express the marketing sentiment, e.g. forward-thinking, novel, avant-garde, cutting-edge, etc., just don’t have the same bloodthirsty ring to them. Yuk.

3.Solutions – cheapo, cheapo fluffy-speak for product or service. We all know that a solution  solves a problem, but guess what? We’re not supposed to talk about problems any more (see 4., below). So why do we try to sugar-coat what we’re selling by using the S-word? Are we too scared of our own mediocrity to call what we offer a product  or a service? And if we are, maybe we should re-examine why we’re so scared?

4.Challenges – oh, purleeeeeze. Whoever it was who insisted that there is no such thing as problems, only challenges, should have been sterilised at birth. Here’s a laugh … according to my trusty friend Dictionary.com, the meaning of challenge  is one of the following:
**A call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.
**Something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc.: e.g. space exploration offers a challenge to humankind.
**A call to fight, as a battle, a duel, etc.
**A demand to explain, justify, etc.:
**A challenge to the treasurer to itemize expenditures.
**Difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.
Now let’s get real here. Do any of those sound like the simple challenges  you might encounter in your day-to-day business life, like running out of printer ink or finding a paper clip when you need one? Didn’t think so. So here’s a thought: why don’t we just stick with problems?

5.Best-seller – maybe. But not on Amazon. Did you know that it’s very easy to manipulate the Amazon sales rankings so that you can, for a couple of hours anyway, have a number one best-selling book? As I said in this article not long ago, it’s not difficult. You tell all your contacts to buy your book at a given time on a particular day, in return for which you will send them all kinds of goodies for free in addition to their purchasing the book within the given time slot. Assuming your contacts perform, because of the way in which Amazon works this shoots the title up to the number one spot for an hour or three and the author then “genuinely” can claim that his/her book has been a number one best-seller. Maybe I’m boring, but to me this is dishonest.

6.Deliver – quite a nice word, but it does still make some of us think of delivering  babies or milk. The current use of the word has done a huge number of favours for courier, logistics and other related businesses, but I still prefer to create  or produce  (or even write ) work for my clients. Often used together with solutions, above – hence delivering solutions, which makes you think of a cute little van turning up to the client’s premises with a tray of gooey doughnuts. Solving problems  would be more honest, but not as tasty or as heaving with sugar.

10 popular business buzzwords we love to hate

My 17-year-old cat, seen here in her younger days.

7.Goddess – I am truly brilliant at cleaning up after my 17-year-old dementia-ridden cat when she has defecated in the house. Does this make me the cat-poop goddess? Can my friend who can bake delicious shortbread and check her kids’ homework at the same time claim similar status as the shortbread-homework goddess? Let’s stop trying to make Disney characters out of women who cope with life and start recognising them as the good old-fashioned professionals they/we actually are.

8.Heart-centred – this one really breaks me up. I know there are countless woo-woo practitioners out there saying it’s cool and spiritual to feel the power of money-making slap bang in your right ventricle but let’s get real here. Business and hearts can go together when someone really puts their heart, soul and sense of humour into their work. But is it honest to suggest that there is some benefit to potential clients from using service providers just because they are heart-centred when hardly anyone really knows what that means? And if they are, why it should make a difference over and above professionalism? Go figure.

9.Guru – this is everyone’s all time love-to-hate term. In fairness though, it’s hard to find a realistic and honest word that describes what you do if you’re out there and know what you’re talking about. Words like expert, specialist, mentor, practitioner, tutor, trainer, and all the others are losing their street-cred simultaneously. Not sure what the answer is but recently I’m just describing myself as a business writer and business writing trainer. All true, but it’s a bit boring, right?

10.Awesome – a good friend of mine was listening to a friend of my son’s in our kitchen one evening and when this character described a local pub as awesome, my friend rather bitchily said, “Versailles, is awesome. That pub is just a nice pub.” The last time a pub inspired true awe in me was when a thatched one in the next village caught fire and burned to the ground. Let’s get our perspectives right and invent a new word, perhaps?

What popular business buzzwords do you love to hate?

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