Who's Bored of Useless Business Speak?

In a global sense, streamlining, the whole ongoing enterprise of it.

The purest of hot-aired David Brent bunkum, cooked up while outlining the steps his branch had taken in the face of an impending redundancy drive at the Slough paper merchant. 

Manager wrapped in Caution tape

Efficiency. Turnover. Profitability, he continues, clearly not reading the room.

As Wernham Hogg executive Jennifer Taylor-Clarke reasonably points out: that sounds an awful lot like management-speak. 

Brent, of course, is the crown prince of meaningless business jargon—an excruciating parody of a boss that anyone who’s spent any time on an office floor will have encountered. It sure sounds fancy, those words wafting from his mouth, but do they actually mean anything?

No, is probably the safest bet. 

Let’s take a look at some other business buzzphrases, some stone-cold Brentisms, that can permeate the office environment like an unwelcome guff.

Circle back

In the simplest of terms, this means to return to a topic, or to check in on the status of something at a later date.

It’s often used when the person has no immediate interest in talking about a subject—but would very much like you to keep it bubbling in your brainbox, to be extracted at a time of their choosing.

In reality, it could be another way of telling you that your ideas stink and to be quiet. Either way, it sounds weird and not anything an actual human would say.

Message 'offline' in a bottle at the beach

Take it offline

In the same wheelhouse as circle back, in that the speaker doesn’t wish to discuss the item on the table. The only difference is that it sounds a little more abrupt. They simply want the current avenue of discussion to stop.

If we consider the actual connotations of taking something offline, we’re  basically suggesting that the topic, or, worse still, the person proposing it, should be unplugged. 

Which is just plain unkind if you ask me.

Synergy

The absolute nadir of meaningless business talk. The Dark Lord of corporate nonsense. Never shall thou speak its name.

What you mean to say is: cooperation. Or better still, teamwork.

Think outside the box image with noughts and crosses

Think outside the box 

In other words, be creative. Come at the problem from a different angle.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of someone telling you to ‘think outside the box’ or indulge in its even more pretentious younger brother ‘blue-sky thinking’ then chances are you felt somewhat irked.

It’s an outmoded phrase and suggests that the speaker doesn’t have time for your run-of-the-mill, practical solutions, instead they want a maverick with radical ideas to blow their eyebrows off. 

You’re essentially being told you’re in the box to begin with.

And who wants to be there?

Finally...

While we may have all been guilty of dropping some of these expressions into our day-to-day chatter at some point, on the whole, people will generally respond better to ideas when they’re presented with clarity. It’s not the 1990s anymore, no one’s wearing shoulder pads in their Burton suit jacket, and no one wants to be subjected to your vague and unhelpful buzzwords.


Or, in the words of David Brent: Trust, encouragement, reward, loyalty... satisfaction.

Posted by Becky Cockman on January 25th 2021

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