Buzzwords – Are They Useful or Annoying? - American Society of Employers - Anthony Kaylin

EverythingPeople This Week!

Buzzwords – Are They Useful or Annoying?

BuzzwordsYear in and year out, buzzwords seem to take on a life of their own.  They do have benefits – buzzwords or corporate jargon often unify employees as a team.  Some employers even publish a list for employees to look up and understand when acronyms and buzzwords are widely used.  

A 2017  survey by American Express Open found that 64% of office workers say they use jargon words or phrases multiple times a week.   It’s ok for a while, but as it becomes part of the culture, many begin using those words at home or with friends outside of work.  It becomes part of their everyday language, which may stunt communication.

Below are the last five year’s winners along with 2007 – before the Great Recession:







New Normal


Circle Back

Touch Base

There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’

Outside the box

Company Culture

Close the loop


Game Changer

Let’s touch base


Circle Back

Hop on a call


Close of Play

Thinking outside the box

The big idea

Boots on the Ground

Hope your [sic] well

Drill Down

Let's take this discussion offline

110 percent


Give 110%

B2H (business to human)


Key Learnings

I’ll just ping that over

Paradigm shift

Low-Hanging Fruit

Mainstream media


Push Back

Let’s arrange a chemistry meeting




Low-Hanging Fruit

Let's table this

No brainer

Integrated solution

Move the Needle

New Normal

Reach Out

Kill it

Smashed it


Growth Hacking

Nice to emeet you



Close of play


Think Outside the Box

We remain cautious


Circle Back


Voice of the consumer


How many of those made you roll your eyes?

It seems what goes around comes around.  We still use many buzzwords from 2007, like “synergy” and “outside the box.”  Buzzwords are good for employee and cultural alignment, but plain speaking is probably the best way to be sincere in employee communications. 

Moreover, in business writing, buzzwords should be limited, and plain or technical writing should dominate.  The buzzword cannot be a substitute for describing whatever is the subject of the writing, whether it is an employee issue (e.g., “not aligned with the program”) or technical explanation.

Buzzwords do have legitimacy in a way.  They do convey shared imagery within an organization and can dress up old ideas with new language when the old idea seems tired. One example of this is described below:

“Imagine you just wrapped up that expensive Harvard MBA and wangled an interview with the marketing department at General Mills. You tell them...what, exactly? That if they hire you, Cheerios will continue to be a top consumer brand? No, that won't do it. You're going to need Advanced Terminology.

‘As we initiate pushback on the paradigm shift and gain traction ­-- you know, actionable leverage -- by examining gap analysis data on the more seamless core competencies at our centers of excellence, it's possible to take this to the next level of penetration without having to circle back on predictable low-hanging fruit. In other words, we can bring value-add to the table and capture a win-win solution so long as we stay on the same page and keep everyone in the loop regarding margin factor learnings for deliverables. That's our takeaway, net-net.’ "

(Source: Medium 3/15/19)

Don’t overuse gobbledygook.  Garbage is easily smelled out, and credibility is fragile.


Source:  Medium 3/15/19, EBN 8/3/22, Fortune 7/3/21, CNBC 12/14/20, Career Blogs 4/6/19, Recruiting Times 7/19/18, Select Matrix 4/3/07



Filter by Authors

Position your organization to THRIVE.

Become a Member Today