Time to weed-out those nasty bizspeak phrases

Language is a living thing; a constantly changing and evolving environment in which words and phrases spring into being and live out their lives. Some, like majestic trees, live long and grace the literary landscape with their presence. Others litter the ground like scraggly weeds, stifling clarity and choking eloquence at every turn.

Business writing – a soil particularly well enriched with taurine fertiliser – provides the most fertile environment for such unwanted invaders to take root. Bryan A. Garner, writing in the HBR, has been busy gathering handfuls of the worst offenders (as judged by numerous contributors) in an effort to put this rogues gallery to the scythe.

Bryan urges everyone to "Hunt for offending phrases: Start looking for bizspeak in all kinds of documents, from memos to marketing plans, and you’ll find it everywhere. " And when you do, pull it out by the roots!

Bizspeak Blacklist
actionable (apart from legal action)
agreeance
as per
at the end of the day
back of the envelope
bandwidth (outside electronics)
bring our A game
client-centered
come-to-Jesus
core competency
CYA
drill down
ducks in a row
forward initiative
going forward
go rogue
guesstimate
harvesting efficiencies
hit the ground running
impact, vb.
incent
incentivize
impactful
kick the can down the road
let’s do lunch
let’s take this offline
level the playing field
leverage, vb.
liaise
mission-critical
monetize
net-net
on the same page
operationalize
optimize
out of pocket (except in reference to expenses)
paradigm shift
parameters
per
planful
push the envelope
pursuant to
putting lipstick on a pig
recontextualize
repurpose
rightsized
sacred cow
scalable
seamless integration
seismic shift (outside earthquake references)
smartsized
strategic alliance
strategic dynamism
synergize
synergy
think outside the box
throw it against the wall and see if it sticks
throw under the bus
turnkey
under the radar
utilization, utilize
value-added
verbage (the correct term is verbiage — in reference only to verbose phrasings)
where the rubber meets the road
win-win

Hunt for offending phrases: Start looking for bizspeak in all kinds of documents, from memos to marketing plans, and you’ll find it everywhere. You’ll eventually learn to spot it — and avoid it — in your own writing. You’ll omit canned language such as Attached please find and other phrases that only clutter your message.


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