When discussing upcoming meetings, complicated projects or even a workplace conflict, it’s easy to fall back on well-worn phrases to get your point across. But according to bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, this indirect and confusing language can easily do more harm than good.
“Business jargon is pretty much meaningless,” she tells CNBC Make It. “I mean, ‘shifting paradigm’ — really?”
Below, Welch highlights four business buzzwords that you should strip from your vocabulary today:
“Let’s take this offline”
Not all workplace conversations will be friendly. But regardless of whether or not you agree with your colleagues, Welch says you should never resort to the phrase, “Let’s take this offline.”
Using this business jargon sends a message that says, “We’ve reached an impasse and things are getting awkward, so I’m going to have a private meeting with a smaller group of people later to get what I want.”
Instead, Welch says, you should push through the challenging conversation and address whatever issue is taking place right in that moment.
“Empower” and “Ownership”
“Empower” and “ownership” are two buzzwords that Welch says have a “super high BS factor.” She emphasizes that you should never use the words together in a sentence like, “I’m empowering you to take ownership of this project.”
Instead, Welch suggests being more direct, and saying something along the lines of, “I am giving you the authority to run this project, and I will hold you responsible for its results.”
Once you say this, she says, the key is to actually hold that person accountable.
Most of us have heard someone toss this one around, as in, “That’s a great idea, but we just don’t have the bandwidth for it right now.”
Welch says this is one of her least favorite buzzwords, because it’s usually used to “gloss over your real reason for saying ‘no.'” Rather than beating around the bush, you should be honest about why something can’t take place and simply say some version of:
- “That idea doesn’t fit our strategy.”
- “We don’t have the money.”
- “Our competitors already do that better than we do.”
Regardless of how bad the truth hurts, Welch says that everyone prefers to hear it.
“I could go on and on, because, honestly, all buzzwords are bad,” she says. “Fight like crazy to banish them from your vocabulary, and you might be surprised how truly empowered you become.”
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.