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Corporate Jargon: It’s a Love/Hate Thing

Corporate jargon — everyone uses it, and most people hate it or love it, or both. In its purest form, jargon is specialized terminology used within a particular industry or area of endeavor. In practice, however, jargon is frequently overused, sometimes even to the point of being irritating or distracting.

Most of us in the channel are careful to avoid using tech and telecom jargon with those outside the industry. But corporate jargon is another matter.

Verizon recently conducted a survey on opinions about and usage of common office jargon. Among their findings:

  • Men and women agree on their top five most-favored jargon and four out of five least-favored jargon.
  • Overall, men feel more strongly about jargon than women. On average, 15% of men expressed a dislike of it, compared to 11% of women.
  • Not liking a phrase doesn’t translate to not using a phrase. One in four (25%) respondents admitted being guilty of using a phrase they disliked.

Click through the gallery below to see what Verizon’s survey revealed to be the five phrase in the corporate jargon collection that people like the most — and the least.

Analysis Paralysis

Least Favored: 'Analysis Paralysis'

This term was voted far and away the most unpopular overall in the Verizon survey. “Analysis paralysis” refers to when an issue has been so overthought and overexamined, formulating the next step becomes impossible.

I'll Ping You

Least Favored: 'I’ll Ping You'

Among women, this was the least-liked expression. Nearly a quarter of them said they would prefer to be contacted later rather than pinged. But really, who wouldn’t?

Run it up the flagpole

Least Favored: 'I’ll Run That up the Flagpole'

The full phrase, “Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes,” dates back to the “Mad Men" era of the ‘50s and ‘60s. It simply means to present an idea and gauge reaction to it. Not even Don Draper would be using it these days.

Boil an Ocean

Least Favored: 'Boil an Ocean'

This is a reference to taking on so much or making the scope of a project so big as to be impossible to accomplish. Nearly two-thirds of women and 70% of men surveyed said they won’t use the expression.
Behind the Eight Ball

Least Favored: 'Behind the Eight Ball'

As any pool player will tell you, when the cue ball is behind the eight ball, a player usually has no shot. If they accidentally hit the eight ball prematurely, they lose. So being behind the eight ball means being in a difficult situation.  

Big Picture

Most Favored: 'Big Picture'

Not all people get the big picture or have a clear concept of an entire situation, goal or idea. But 40% of those surveyed both like and use the term. Eighty percent said they use it the most.

All Hands on Deck

Most Favored: 'All Hands on Deck'

This phrase was borrowed from the navy, where it was typically used in cases of emergency that required all crew members (hands) to go on deck. In the business world it’s used when all employees or team members are needed to complete a task.

Bring to the Table

Most Favored: 'Bring to the Table'

Originally referring to the negotiating table, we now use this phrase to mean the contribution any individual brings to a situation or organization.

Go All-In

Most Favored: 'Go All-In'

In poker, going all-in involves betting everything on a hand. In business, it involves putting all resources and efforts into a project.

Out-of-the-Box

Most Favored: 'Out-of-the-Box'

Ironically, a phrase that means something new and unusual is neither. Although overused to the point of being hackneyed, this expression is still popular in corporate circles. In tech circles, however, it could cause some confusion, since an out-of-the-box product is one that can be used immediately.

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