Friday, February 27, 2009

Using a Bazooka to Kill a Mosquito

Were you ever around someone who uses a particular word constantly, and once you take notice it just annoys the hell out of you?

Well, I've noticed a few buzzwords and phrases in the working world that I want to run over with my car. They've sprained my ears, blurred my vision and caused silent rage.

Here are my top 5 offenders:
  • "From a global perspective" = Nails on a chalkboard. It just sounds so lofty and ridiculous. Can we please come up with another way of relating the concepts of "big picture" or "overall?"
  • Utilize - this word should be banned from the English language. There's no need for it. "Use" means exactly the same thing, and it takes up less space and less time.
  • Components - This is frequently used to describe any parts of a greater whole. For example, instead of saying "we'll have talk about that topic later", someone might say "we'll have to address that component offline."
  • And speaking of "offline" ... let's not speak of it. Anymore.
  • Do you have a copy of the document? - Document is used to refer to any piece of paper .... and agenda, a memo, and chart, etc. Why can't you just call it what it is? (OK, not YOU personally .... but think of the word YOU from a more "global perspective" .... ack!) Because saying "send me the document" sounds better than "send me the agenda?" I don't know, but people love to refer to anything as a document. Personally, I'm a fan of specificity.

And here's a bonus extra: "Let's identify the disconnects." This is a combo offender. I probably hear the word "identify" about 300 times a day. It's the same as "find" or "figure out." And "disconnects" is a big way of saying problems, screw-ups, issues, etc.

I had a boss a few years ago that was particularly creative in his use of metaphor and non-traditional business communication. I miss that guy. Not only did I learn alot from observing and working with him, but he was easy to listen to and kept things interesting. One of my favorites was a line he said when telling somebody they were overdoing something -- "you don't need to build a space shuttle to get a glass of Tang." Pretty good, eh?

Inspired by his creativity, I told somebody the other day they were "using a bazooka to kill a mosquito."


Gwen said...

If I didn't love you already, this post would have done the job quite nicely. I completely agree on everything you said. I think why it's so irritating is that these words or phrases are used as a means of infusing the person's language with a certain importance. I think like this - "You think you're hot shit because you just said "global perspective." People just look all smug after saying these big ol' words. It's infuriating. But there are some people that can get away with it. College professors, say. And there are some people that have larger vocabularies than others in and out of work. But I think it's easy to spot people who hear something once and then feel the need to use it over and over and over again to look smart or business-like. GREAT post. Oh and if you want to contact me through email (I almost said "via email" but realized that "via" is another one of those over used words)

Los said...

We have TONS of these at Vanguard:

* Opportunity areas.
* Circling Back.
* Broken Windows

I could go on and on.

Anonymous said...

Just the phrase "Think outside the box" is enough to make me... irritated. "Cutting Edge" and "Leading Edge" also qualify for the irritant.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

How about "orientated"?

And, even though I'm out of the real world and SO miss the workplace-ese, when I hear about things being "synerginistic", my eyes roll so far back that I knock myself out.

schue said...

i'm annoyed just by reading this.

schue said...

i'm annoyed just by reading this.

schue said...

i'm annoyed just by reading this.