12 Infuriating Business Jargon Phrases and Their Simple but Ingenious Substitutes
Updated May 2021
Every time I hear someone say “let’s circle back on that” I want to scream.
What’s wrong with “let’s discuss this later?”
Similarly, “keep me in the loop“, “a win-win situation”, “ blue sky thinking”, “on my radar”, “110%”.
110%? What’s wrong with 100%?
Why is it that we love to pepper our language with these nonsensical expressions? What’s so clever about them?
I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to using jargon, but recently I’ve been trying hard to stop myself from blurting out yet another example of gobbledygook.
Because business jargon is exactly that – gobbledygook. It’s meaningless and adds nothing to the conversation except puzzled looks around the table or Zoom screens.
It also adds stress to when you’re participating in a meeting in English fidgeting uncomfortably and admonishing yourself for not knowing what the “elephant in the room” means.
You walk away thinking that you must Google and print off a list of business jargon expressions to memorise sometime, not sure when but definitely sometime. You walk away blaming your lack of confidence on not knowing enough business jargon.
The truth is that business jargon helps NO ONE. Regardless of whether someone is a ‘native’ or an international speaker of English, it doesn’t facilitate communication. If one half of the group doesn’t understand what’s being said, what’s the point of it?
Plus, why do you need to acquire this jargon when your English is more than good enough?
Don’t believe me?
Take a look at these 12 business jargon expressions and their plain, accessible English substitutes and tell me if you don’t already have that vocabulary.
My top 12 infuriating business jargon expressions and their simple but ingenious substitutes
- We need to get back to the drawing board.
Plain English: We need to start again.
- If we’re going to achieve the results we want this year, we have to hit the ground running with the project.
Plain English: If we’re going to achieve the results we want this year, we have to be ready to work immediately on the project.
- Let’s get the ball rolling on this project.
Plain English: Let’s start this project.
- If we want to compete in this market, we need to think outside the box.
Plain English: If we want to compete in this market, we need to think differently.
- Right, thanks, everyone. Let’s touch base tomorrow at 2 pm.
Plain English: Right, thanks, everyone. Let’s speak again tomorrow at 2 pm.
- Ok. See you Friday at 6 pm. If I am running late, I’ll ping you a message.
Plain English: Ok. See you Friday at 6 pm. If I am running late, I’ll send you a message.
- Self-publishing is a no brainer for freelance trainers with limited resources.
Plain English: Self-publishing is the logical solution for freelance trainers with limited resources.
- Working long hours is par for the course when you start a business.
Plain English: Working long hours is normal (or expected) when you start a business.
- There’s an ongoing problem with the system that hasn’t been addressed. We’re going to have to circle back on that next week.
Plain English: There’s an ongoing problem with the system that hasn’t been addressed. We’re going to have to meet again next week to discuss matters further.
- It’s all hands on deck to get this project done by the agreed deadline.
Plain English: Everyone is working hard to get this project done by the agreed deadline.
- It was obvious to everyone that the elephant in the room was the job cuts.
Plain English: It was obvious that everyone was trying to avoid the difficult subject of the job cuts.
- Listen, I don’t have time for this. I have so much on my plate at the moment and am finding it difficult to cope as it is.
Plain English: Listen, I don’t have time for this. I am so busy at the moment and am finding it difficult to cope as it is.
How does that feel? Liberating? Empowering?
I know I may not convince all of you about the value of keeping it simple and using the English you have and that’s fine.
All I ask, though, is that you reflect on how much value those expressions add to your message and to your audience’s understanding. If the answer is minimal, then do your confidence and your audience’s understanding a favour and ditch them.
Trust in your English to communicate clearly and confidently.
PS: If you think a friend or colleague would love this list, feel free to share this post with them. Or they can sign up for my newsletter here.