Complex Made Simple

Office Jargon could drive anyone crazy, but these words are here for a reason

You need to cross pollinate between short-term synergies and future organic reach to achieve real time milestones. If you don't understand this jargon, read on

Jargon has a reason for existing in our midst Nobody pays attention when communication is confusing Make unimaginative industry references, acronyms and statistics come alive by creating dynamic word pictures

The below statistics by Statista.com caught my attention for it brought to mind many of the same jargon that I use in my own profession.

These expressions made me smile and realise that I am complicit in propagating words and expressions that may not serve any purpose whatsoever except alienate people.

But doing more research, I realised that jargon, after all, has a reason for existing in our midst.

First, let’s look at Statista’s Most Hated Office Jargon.

Infographic courtesy of Statista.com

In so many meaningless words 

 “Let’s touch base”. 24% of respondents to the latest Glassdoor survey in the UK said that they were annoyed by this particular example of office jargon. Quite far behind in second place was the classic 'no-brainer' with 14%.

 On 8% is 'let's get our ducks in a row', a needlessly abstract way of saying you need to be prepared for something.

When Jargon doesn’t work

Look at this below sentence. Does it make sense?

Do you architect end-to-end synergies by operationalizing outside-the-box iterations? Are you emails filled with drilling down, touching base, and moving needles? Is it your MO to sling ROI and B2B at the water cooler?

Imagine yourself on the other end of this conversation, wondering: “What?”

Exactly!

The person saying this could be projecting an image of wisdom and expertise that will surely earn him the respect of others, but the resulting reactions usually fall short of that.

In fact, using jargon doesn't make you seem smarter, says Mark Wiskup, author of The It Factor; it "puts you on the straight path to mediocrity."

Nobody pays attention when communication is confusing, he says, and audience members quickly forget what they don't understand.

Wiskup adds: "Make unimaginative industry references, acronyms and statistics come alive by creating dynamic word pictures. You build powerful connections when you use pictures to make jargon and acronyms come alive."

If you're promoting a construction company, instead of saying, "We're a fully integrated firm" say: “We've got architects, construction professionals and development experts in the same office, working together as a team.”

And, instead of referring to a "matrix-driven organization, say: "We measure everything we do.”

When Jargon works

Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan and the author of several books on language. Her latest is Fixing English.

“When you say business language to me, the first word that comes to mind is jargon. And I don’t use that in as negative a sense as many people use it. As a linguist, I think about jargon as the words or the lexicon that is specific to a profession or a pastime. That kind of language can provide you with useful shortcuts,” Curzan said.

So why are peole annoyed with it?

“I think the annoyance with business jargon, comes from people who feel like they’re on the outside. Another concern is that jargon is euphemistic. So you’ll hear people worry about euphemisms like “restructure,” which they’ll say is business jargon, but really it means that you’re letting people go,” Curzan told HBR.org.

Arabic business lingo

If you are an expat working in the Middle East it would be wise to know and properly interpret some of these business/social jargons.

1. Habibi.  It comes from the word “hobb”or "love", and Habibi which means “friend”. It could mean “my good friend”, or express frustration (the tone and pitch are higher) “Habibiii”, and sometimes is preceded with “ya” so it becomes “Ya Habibi” or becomes an irritated “Oh my God”. No love there.

2. Insha’Allah: A very common expression, meaning “God willing”. It is an answer to any question in the affirmative. For example, Q: “Will you be there?” A: “Insha’Allah”. Q: “Should I call you next week?”A: “Insha’Allah”.

Be careful. It’s not a commitment, but rather a way of acknowledging the conversation, and loosely interpreted that if God wishes for those plans to come to fruition, then they will.

3. Masha'Allah A true translation means: “What God has willed”. But it's most commonly said when admiring or praising something or someone. Example: Oh Masha'Allah! That's great! This could be a sign that the person agrees with your idea, project or product.