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12 Most Rehumanizing Ways to Reword Dehumanizing Business Jargon

Can you tap a resource to execute the next project? Make sure you get it on their radar screen and really sweat the asset to get it done.

Business jargon is somewhat incomprehensible but always dehumanizing, demoralizing and demotivating. In offices all across the United States, we hear these phrases uttered at a constant pace. They make employees feel less than human and like a replaceable part in the massive corporate machine. However, it is simple enough to rehumanize that dehumanizing business jargon.

1. Resource

One of the most dehumanizing words in corporate jargon is resource. It can refer to a copy machine, paper clip or a person. If the resource being referred to breathes air, talks and has a name, it is best NOT to use the word resource.

2. Human capital

A close cousin to resource, but at least this phrase actually acknowledges that people are different than staplers. The people who spend 40+ hours a week working for a company are more valuable than this term implies. Without PEOPLE — a company cannot survive.

3. Tap

“We’d like to tap your brain for this upcoming project.” Ouch! You mean stick a metal object into my brain to drain out my intellect like I am a maple tree. No thanks, but I am happy to help you with the project.

4. It is what it is

This translates into I have completely given up on trying to solve this problem or I am completely powerless to help. Try listening, talking and coming up with solutions to see if you can change whatever “it is” into something better.

5. Radar screen

“You need to put this on your radar screen.” I don’t have a radar screen. Am I being promoted to an air traffic controller? How much harder could that be than playing Asteroids?
Instead, use “be aware of” or “take note” of the upcoming project.

6. Take it to the next level

“We need to take our deliverables to the next level.” Cool. Apparently, we are playing Super Mario Brothers at work and I didn’t realize it. I will get to the next level and save Princess Toadstool. Instead of this meaningless and overused phrase, outline the goals for the future and how the company is going to get there.

7. Bleeding edge

“There has to be bleeding edge thinking on this project.” This phrase just conjures up an image of a blood covered knife; not what I want to be thinking about if I want to push my thinking forward. How about using “creative thinking” or even “leading edge?” Anything is better than blood in the cubicle.

8. Execute

“How are we going to execute the project?” This overused word brings to mind more violent images and makes me wonder what did the poor project do to deserve this treatment? Try using the simple word “do” instead.

9. Bandwidth or cycles

“I’ll see if she has any bandwidth for these additional duties.” As much as I wish I was HAL 2000 refusing to open the pod bay doors, employees are not computers. Try instead this fantastic word – time. “I’ll see if she has the time for these additional duties.”

10. Sweat the asset

A company that gets every last drop of value out of its resources whether it be a person or machine. When referring to employees, let’s just stop using this phrase, ok? Thanks.

11. Cross pollination

“By bringing together the two teams, we are hoping you can cross-pollinate.” We are getting bees in the office? Isn’t than dangerous? Bees sting.
Oh, you mean — “share ideas.”

12. Flight risk

“I think Joe’s a flight risk.” Have you thought that Joe might be a flight risk because you talk about him like a prisoner? I’d want to quit too if I felt like an inmate at my job.

Rehumanizing dehumaninzing language in the office place is easy — just talk like a human being in plain language that builds relationships rather than demoralizes them.

What do you think? Did I miss any dehumanizing jargon? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most:

Featured image courtesy of  Jenn and Tony's Bot licensed via Creative Commons

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7 responses to “12 Most Rehumanizing Ways to Reword Dehumanizing Business Jargon”

  1. Mark Morden says:

    Michelle: a good list. I’d add my all time pet peeve of business jargon: thinking outside the box. I have a talk that I should give sometime about how that phrase means exactly the opposite of what people who use it think it means. You are not creative when you think outside the box. You are just noodling in an undefined space with no goal in mind. The phrase should be “thinking your way out of the box.” Creativity is about overcoming obstacles, not setting the obstacle aside and randomly coming up with something new.

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you Mark! Out-of-the-box almost made the list but it is just so trite that I decided not too. I HATE that phrase too. Although I didn’t know the actual meaning behind it until you explained it. I’d love to hear your talk on this topic! It would be fascinating.

    • Mack McCoy says:

      I’ve noticed that most people who speak about thinking “outside the box” haven’t yet mastered what’s inside the box! Also – maybe if we started using original phrasings when we speak, we might be able to avoid tired, cliched thinking!

      • Michelle says:

        Amen Mack! I completely agree. I am one of those who believes that language creates our reality. If we want to be creative, we need to get rid of completely uncreative uses of language.

  2. PettyV says:

    A fun read (speaking as someone who had been incarcerated in a multinational corporation for more than a decade). Maybe you could follow up with a piece on inane platitudes?


    • Michelle says:

      Thank you PettyV! My goal was to poke fun at the corporate world. I love the idea of writing one on inane platitudes. What would be your #1 offender?

  3. Public Speaking Tips and Techniques #NN says:

    […] with stories, not data.Don’t be afraid of executives; be afraid FOR them.Michelle Mazur suggests alternatives for common business jargon.11. Cross pollination“By bringing together the two […]

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