Corporate Jargon Decoded: Are Your Colleagues Full Of BS? ("Business Speak" Lah)

Sim Ding En
·4-min read
How much more
How much more
How much more "bandwidth" do you have to "take it offline" and "circle back" to the "holistic overview" of the "big picture"? | Original photo: 123RF

Corporate jargon, corporate speak, corporate lingo, office buzzwords, commercialese or plain ol' BS (business speak, that is). Call it what you want, but it's something many of us have had to put up with in our professional lives. Some, for decades.

BS has apparently been around since the '50s, when large conglomerates began forming post-WWII as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Employees started feeling a disconnect (Ooh! A corporate buzzword!) with the companies they worked for, and managers began thinking about ways to create an emotionally conducive workplace that would maximise profits.

Basically, sociology + efficiency = office speak. Ironically, these days, and in many corporate settings, it has proven to be counter-productive. Oftentimes, business speak really does turn into the other BS.

If BS is something that irks the majority, why does it, as Harvard Business Review (HBR) puts it, "remain a staple of the modern organisation"?

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In an Instagram caption, while HBR recognises the necessity of corporate jargon in certain industries (such as air traffic controllers using the phonetic alphabet for clarity and accuracy), it also states: "Research suggests that jargon can also result from insecurity and a desire for professional status. It can also make communication more difficult for group outsiders and lead them to disengage."

Basically, your colleagues are using BS to BS their way through. Oh, but you knew that, of course.

How many times have you rolled your eyes when someone says "circle back", "touch base" and "take it offline" (sometimes, things are taken offline so much, you wonder why you're even online), and frowned in frustration because you just sat through a two-hour virtual meeting of complete BS - both kinds.

Here, we cut through the BS and put it on mute, so you don't have to use so much "bandwidth" to decipher what's going at your next "ideation session".

But if you're still blur, hey, just circle back to our article lor. 😌

via GIPHY

WHAT THEY SAID

WHAT IT MEANS

WHAT THEY MEAN

We should be looking out for low-hanging fruit.

We should be on the lookout for things that are easy to accomplish or easily solved, and will give us clear benefits.

KPI helper. Just do it.

We need to leverage on… and ensure that it has a high ROI.

We need to take advantage of… to make it work in our favour, and make certain that it will be worth our time and effort.

KPI helper. If not ma fan, just do it.

Shall we take this offline?

Shall we discuss this in a different setting and at a different time?

Talk later can? (Subtext: Cuz I dunno WTF is happening.)

Let’s have an onboarding session.

Let me introduce you to all the processes and procedures in this organisation.

Here’s the MF tea.

Let’s have an ideation session.

Let’s meet and bring different ideas to the table.

I’m tired AF. Y’all think.

Let’s deep dive into this project with Marketing and drill down until we find the level of detail required.

Let’s have a meeting with Marketing to look at the details of this project closely, and examine and analyse the project further.

Marketing, why liddat ah?

There seems to be a disconnect between what was communicated and the final product.

We’re in a situation where expectations differ from reality.

Oi, that’s not what you said.

If we hire this individual, what do you think he can bring to the table?

If we hire this person, what skills or value can he offer to the organisation?

This fella tok kong or CMI?

Here are some of the proposals to ensure that the team meets its KPIs this year.

This is what we’ll have to do to ensure that we receive a good evaluation for our performance at the end of the financial year.

Want bonus? Do this.

Can we get the boss’s buy-in before we proceed with this project?

We will only proceed if the boss accepts and commits to this course of action.

Dun waste time lah. Boss say can or not?

via GIPHY

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