October 1, 2009
Recoiling from officespeak when you're off the clock
Yesterday a writer pal working at a neighborhood café posted the following as her Facebook status:
"The bizspeak happening at the next table is making my ears bleed."
Wondering what catchphrases had set her off, my brain quickly brimmed with sentences like:
"Let's leverage this."
"I don't have the bandwidth for that."
"So what are my action items?"
"Can we take this offline?"
Well aware of American workers' disdain for such corporate gobbledygook, the survey-happy folks at Accountemps asked 150 senior executives from 1,000 of the country's largest companies for their most hated business buzzwords. Among the top offenders:
Game changer. As in, "Moving from products to solutions was a game changer for us."
Disconnect. As in, "There's a disconnect between what our consumers want and our product offers."
Value-add. As in, "We need to evaluate the value-add of this before we spend more time on it."
And perhaps the most dreaded on-the-job jargon of workers nationwide:
Circle back. As in, "I'll be in meetings all morning, but I'll circle back with you later."
But let's not forget the recessionspeak fatigue we're all suffering from too. I know I can't be the only one who hits the ceiling every time she hears the phrases "given the economy," "worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," and "survivor's guilt."
As for the executives Accountemps polled, their most-hated recession lingo included terms like "restructuring," "downsizing," "bailout," "pay freeze," "gloom and doom," "overworked," and the annoyingly euphemistic "do more with less."
Readers, how about you? What corporate catchphrases make you die a little on the inside when you hear them used outside the workplace? What recession clichés do you hope to never hear again for the rest of your living days?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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