This week you may have seen our list of banned words and phrases shared across Twitter. 

This list forms a part of the Econsultancy style guide, issued to all new writers in the office, along with a set of Econsultancy temporary tattoos and a nightstick.

Why do we come down so hard on jargon?

As you’re no doubt aware, there are many problems with jargon…

People that regularly use jargon generally tend not to know what they’re talking about and more often than not use it in completely the wrong way:

“I don’t think you’re using ‘leverage’ correctly, sir”

“Tell that to the doughnuts I’m about to leverage down my throat.”

Unfortunately jargon is also a handy safety-net, especially when you need a shorthand way of saying something much more complicated.

I have gone to ridiculous lengths to avoid using the term millennials, unfortunately this leads to headlines such as: ‘How social media influences the demographic cohort following Generation X, who achieved adulthood roughly between the late 1990s and early 2000s’.

As the deputy editor, I find it incredibly helpful to keep with me a handy guide to non-jargony alternatives, this way I don’t have to spend 15 minutes of my day desperately thinking of a different way to say ‘blue sky thinking’.

I will share this list with you now…

Leverage

This is a secret codeword. If anyone uses it they are basically saying “help I don’t know what I’m doing here, I’ve been trapped in this building for 18 months and can’t find my way out. I wore this power-suit to an 80s themed fancy dress party, took a wrong turn and now I’m here, forced to attend regular two-hour long meetings and scrums. Also what’s a scrum?” 

Once you hear this codeword from your frightened colleague, just give them a subtle wink, put your arm around their shoulder and lead them out the fire exit.

Synergies

Synergy means to join together and make something even more powerful than the sum of its parts. Like when Pepsi and Coca-Cola joined forces to make Pepola, an energy drink that caused total renal failure within four sips, but if you made it to the fifth sip you could see through time.

The plural of synergy is something you should never say.

Touch base

“We need to talk” although this is normally followed by a break-up, so perhaps best to say “let’s talk/chat/meet-up”.

Unless you’re the kind of boss that wants to remind their employees of any emotional trauma they’ve experienced in their lives, in which case take them to a park, sit them on a bench, smile apologetically without saying anything for a short time, then say “we need to talk” and proceed to tell them that they’re being transferred to Alaska.

Paradigm shift

Some people got tired of saying “example” all the time, after all it’s a difficult word to say especially with that x in there; the most exhausting of all letters. So people started saying paradigm instead. This was a complete ‘paradigm shift’ away from the standard practice of saying example all the time. This is what people are referring to when they say ‘paradigm shift’, nothing more, so feel free to ignore them.

Learnings

If you’re going to use the phrase ‘here are our key learnings’ instead of ‘here is what we have learnt’ then may I recommend that you go out for a long walk and really think about what you’re trying to achieve with your time on Earth.

Leading

A baseless verb that seems to protect a company from having to do any actual research into how well they are doing in their particular field.

May I recommend either saying nothing or being honest and saying ‘third best CRM system provider in Chiswick’.

Solution

This is software, a product, or a service you’ve bought that will help you perform a particular task or function (email marketing, retargeting etc.).

Calling it a solution alludes to the fact that if you buy this software, product or service, then your problems are all over. This isn’t the case, as even though your email marketing campaign may be running more efficiently, the time you spend researching Gifs of Taylor Swift will get wildly out of hand and cause a whole new problem.

So yeah, we just call it software, product or service,

Incentivise

Manipulate people into performing an action with a reward that has little to no value.

Example:

“How do we incentivise people to carry on playing our ‘technically free’ app game?”

“Isn’t the reward just playing the game itself?”

“I don’t understand what you mean. Let’s just charge people for things in the game that will make it easier for them to play, before they realise what evil geniuses we really are.”

“Wow, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you actually refer to yourself as evil. The mask is finally slipping, huh?”

“YOU WILL KNEEL BEFORE MALEBOLGIA THE FATHER OF LIES”

Pivot

I think this has something to do with trying to get a sofa up two flights of stairs, but then my memory has been so badly affected by television that I could be wrong. Either way it has no place in your office. Unless you happen to be moving a sofa into your office, then you should definitely shout ‘pivot’ lots and smile at the nostalgia of it all.

Disruption

I wrote an article about disruption once. I got the meaning wrong. You see disruption doesn’t mean to disturb or interrupt an event or activity, oh no, it means to ‘transform an expensive, complicated product used by a small minority, by making it more affordable and accessible, and therefore creating a brand new market.’

Just remember that the next time a colleague says your company “needs to disrupt the market” and you go down to Spitalfields with a megaphone and a pack of wild dingoes.

Come to the party

I’ve never actually heard this one before. Nor have I ever been invited to any parties. It would therefore be heartbreaking to finally hear this in a meeting and then realise I’m not being invited to a party.

Diarise

I think you should be at home, in bed, with plenty of fluids.

Mission critical

Not even those in ground control said “mission critical” when everything was going tits-up for Apollo 13, so you definitely shouldn’t say it in relation to running low on ad inventory before the end of the quarter. 

Verbage

A word that means an ‘over-abundance of words used when something much simpler could be stated instead’. Hmmm… we should probably keep this one.

Actionable

Jacksonable.

Sense-check

Whoever uses this term has the ability to not only read a written proposal for clarity, but also smell, taste and touch it too. This person clearly has superhuman powers and should therefore be treated like your superior. Also see ‘Daredevil’.

Blue sky thinking

I can’t believe anyone has used this in the last three years unironically. If you’re in a situation where someone turns to you and says “that’s some blue sky thinking right there” with their tongue in cheek, go to HR and get them fired immediately. It’s only a matter of time before they start using it in a non-ironic manner.

Best in class

See ‘leading’.

Going forward

In the future? From now on?

There’s always been something vaguely passive-aggressive about the phrase ‘going forward’, perhaps because it alludes to something along the lines of ‘can you stop sucking at your job so much please’. However you’re not really allowed to say that anymore, so your manager will say ‘going forward’ instead.

Just remember that every time someone says ‘going forward’ to you, they really mean that you suck.

Big Data

Easy one this. For headlines, instead of saying ‘Big Data is the New Oil’, we would go with ‘The massive volume of data that has suddenly become available to us thanks to the rise of online traffic, which has in turn led to a need for accurate analytics packages and improvements in understanding the data accrued is the New Oil’. 

However we wouldn’t say ‘New Oil’ either. We’d say ‘New Bacon’. But only briefly, until we realised that was a stupid thing to say and we’d revert back to ‘a resource that if used correctly can be endlessly profitable, but that we have to be careful not to become too unhealthily obsessed by.’

So the full alternative to ‘Big Data is the New Oil’ would now read… Oh wait, my deadline is up.

Next week: 28 swear words banned from the Econsultancy blog and 15 you’ll be surprised we are allowed to say.

You’ll be shocked at the results.

More hard-hitting journalism…