Recently, several words and phrases have become popular in business circles. Unfortunately, many of these jargons are now so over-used, they have turned into irritating clichés.
Often, these words have infiltrated business English from the world of technology, science, literature, psychology, entertainment, sport and other fields where their use might be appropriate. We call them jargons, which means ‘nonsense’ and is derived from the Old French meaning ‘to chatter’.
All jargons should be avoided except in the circles where it has relevance. The word ‘firewall’ for example has a specific meaning in IT but in general business communication, it would be considered jargon. Using jargons in general communication is either a lazy, thoughtless action or a form of snobbery and an attempt to make others feel inferior.
When communicating in business, it is important to use language that is universally understood. Communication should be simple, inclusive and should never make people feel embarrassed because something is unfamiliar.
Jargons – Words And Phrases To Avoid
Blue sky thinking: it means to free your mind and tackle a problem with no rules or prejudices, to be open and creative. It was originally used to describe fraudulent or worthless shares and securities. The the people who promoted them were called ‘blue sky merchants’ because what they were selling was no more real than a chunk of sky.
Get (or getting) our ducks in a row: to be organised and orderly. It’s believed to date from around the 1850s and is based on how baby ducks arrange themselves behind their mother in a straight line.
Low hanging fruit: At first thought to be a fairly new phrase but has now been traced back to 1628. Fruit that hangs on the lower branches of trees is easier to pick, so this phrase is a metaphor for a business objective that’s easier to achieve.
Heavy lifting: A common phrase in English that simply means the handling of heavy weights, either in the gym or while moving heavy objects like furniture. In business, it means really hard work which is actually a much better phrase to use.
Push the envelope: In aviation, this means to fly outside the aircraft’s normal limits of performance. In business, the phrase means much the same – to perform beyond usual limits. In the test pilot’s cockpit, it’s an acceptable phrase. In business it should be avoided.
Call in our marker: A phrase borrowed from the world of gambling. Heavy gamblers frequently borrow money from shadowy sources to feed their habit. The borrower receives a marker, usually a simple paper document showing the amount owned. The marker is called in when the lender demands to be repaid. In business it usually means to ask for the return of a favour from someone you have helped in the past.