Top 8 Buzzwords to Leave in 2016

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Top 8 Buzzwords to Leave in 2016

By Tammy Stone, The Psychology of Business

The year is coming to an end, and we are all prepping for Q1. There is a lot of office jargon that sneaks into our vocabulary throughout the year. It usually ends up sounding like a lot of fluff, and not a lot of action. Let your hard work and planning speak for itself. Using these buzzwords or phrases will only hurt your credibility. During any planning and strategizing, use more originality and avoid these cliche office buzzwords.

A buzzword is a “word or phrase, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context”. (Oxford)

1 . Circle back 

Everyone in the business world has heard the phrase, “lets circle back later”.  Most of the time later just means “not now”. Circling back is a fancy way of not wanting to talk the current topic or issue. Business News Daily cited “Circle Back” as one of the most “common (but annoying) [buzzwords] in the modern workplace”. The actually meaning of circle back is “to return” (Webster). If you catch yourself using this phrase, try switching it for “let’s talk about this next week”. That’s what you really mean, and it’s more direct.

2. Low Hanging Fruit 

We all need the emotional boost of crossing small items off of our checklist from time to time. Low hanging fruit is kind of like that. Low hanging fruit is a “thing or person that can be won, obtained, or persuaded with little effort” (Definition). This strategy is about finding the fastest and easiest way to get a victory, no matter what size. While it may bring fast satisfaction, it is not a long lasting or winning strategy. Low hanging fruit “may be tempting, [but] the true rewards come from climbing higher and stretching for the real treasure” (The Balance). If you catch yourself saying this too often, it’s time to reassess your game plan. Reach for the higher (more rewarding) fruit in 2017.

3. Quick Wins 

This buzzword is interchangeable with “low hanging fruit”. A quick win is “an improvement that is visible, has immediate benefit, and can be delivered quickly after the project begins” (enfocussolutions). If you’re looking for a morale boost, then this will help, but nobody made it to the top focusing on “quick wins”. Beside it being a less than successful plan, your coworkers and employees are sick of hearing it. Go for a big win versus a quick win in 2017.

4. At a High Level 

This buzzword can cause confusion and resentment in the office. The term means “having senior authority or high status: high-level personnel” ( In office terms, high level is the “where you want to go” versus the “what you do when you are there” details (Quora). A Manager may say “we are discussing the options at a high level”. What they mean by “high level” is the overall picture. Usually it is not a person’s intent to exert their authority when using this phrase. Unfortunately it can come off that way. There is too much room for misinterpretation. If we need two definitions to understand it, let’s leave this phrase in 2016.

5. Dig in

This phrase is commonly referenced at the dinner table, “let’s dig in”. They mean let’s eat, dig into the meal. In the business world “dig in” means “to begin to process something, or to go work on something” (TheFree). Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean we need to decorate our vocabulary. Try using the terms ‘start’, or “get to work” instead of “dig in”. Less confusion and fluff in the business world is always a good thing.

“Let’s get to work on this project” vs.”Let’s dig in on this project”.  

6. Move the Needle

Moving the needle is often used to show results. It describes a shift in “some area, activity, sphere etc. to a noticeable degree” (WordSense). The needle is a starting point, and moving it is the progress. For Venture Capitalists, “if something doesn’t move the needle, meaning that it doesn’t generate a reaction (like, positive cash flow), they don’t like it much (Forbes). Unfortunately it’s becoming a go to cliche phrase around the office. Avoid incorporating this term in your reports and proposals. Your coworkers will thank you.

7. Bandwidth

There are several different meanings of bandwidth. The way it was most overused in 2016 is “as a synonym for capacity or ability” (TechTarget). For example, “we don’t have the bandwidth to take on a new project”. Bandwidth is often cited as the reason an assignment can’t be done. Be careful of how often you are telling your boss or coworkers that you don’t have the ability to perform a task. Bandwidth has become a more acceptable business term for just saying no. Think about how you’re using the term and get more creative in 2017.

8. (Does it) Scale?

The term “scale” is so common in the business tech world. If something scales, it has the “capability to cope and perform under an increased or expanding workload. A system that scales well [can] maintain or even increase its level of performance or efficiency when tested by larger operational demands (Scalability). In other words, if a system is performing well at a low level, it can be just as successful at a higher level. The problem is, there are a lot of innovative ideas that don’t have a clear way of scaling up. Since there is not a clear way it can be used on a larger size, the idea is put on hold. Consider the possibility your business is not going to triple in size immediately.  If your business doesn’t plan on instant growth, your idea doesn’t always need to scale.

Buzzwords sneak into everyone’s vocabulary. Going into 2017 these are the top 8 buzzwords we intend to eliminate. All of the buzzwords can be said without using the cliche phrases. Originality is underrated in the workforce. Remove these words and increase your credibility. Let us know what buzzwords you are sick of hearing around your office?

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