Aviva Singer is a content specialist and chief of New Media’s language police.
Don’t touch me on my base – and other unforgivable corporate jargon sins.
Ever told someone to action a robust, game-changing response, pick low-hanging fruit, or leverage a synergy? Call the language police – you’ve fallen victim to the corporate drivel commonly spouted by those who think they sound smart.
But here’s the thing – smart people are secure enough and think clearly enough to speak simply and directly. They don’t hide behind jargon, assuming others will be too dazzled to ask what they really mean.
Me, I don’t want anyone touching my base… No, just no.
Being alert to lazy, misleading language goes some way towards respecting our audiences, our clients, and one another. Here’s my pick of the offenders.
- Resource. ‘Jack is a resource for the editorial team.’
A resource is something you use to complete a task, be it a printer or a ballpoint pen. When we refer to a person as a resource, it’s quite simply dehumanising. But then it’s easier to make tough choices about resources than people.
- Going forward. ‘Going forward, the plan is to consolidate these functions.’
This inanity has become de rigueur in business communications. To quote The Guardian, ‘Going forward is purported to mean “in the future” or “somewhere down the road” when in fact it is an attempt to dodge the use of these words, which generally indicate “I don’t know”. Enough said.
- Touch base. ‘Let’s touch base next week.’
A non-committal way of saying you might contact someone again. Then again, you might not. Me, I don’t want anyone touching my base. And as for adding insult to injury with a plural touching bases… No, just no.
- Drill down. ‘We need to really drill down on these stats.’
This cringe-worthy phrase is a favourite of boss types who want something examined more closely. However, it’s more gril than drill, particularly when mined to ‘a granular level’.
- Utilise. ‘Visitors may utilise the staff canteen.’
Unless utilised in the context of a scientific or biological process, this is just an inflated, pointless way of saying ‘use’.
If you can bear it, find more banned buzzwords here:
If you’re in agreeance, or there’s a phrase you’d really like to unpack, please interface below. We’re hoping for an idea shower.
Written by Aviva Singer