27 September 2023

Please stop using confusing workplace jargon

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Workplace jargon is often a waste of time and effort says Elizabeth Yuko * who identifies 10 sayings that say nothing.

One of the challenges of starting a new job is learning all the lingo, acronyms, and terminology specific to the workplace, and the industry as a whole.

While much of that can’t be avoided, many people can make more of an effort when it comes to generic workplace jargon.

You know what we’re talking about: Those words and phrases that presumably popped up as a way to make certain concepts easier to understand, but somewhere along the way became so cliché that they lost their meaning.

On top of that, there are also phrases that are commonly used, but often misunderstood, or that never really made much sense. Here are 10 examples of confusing workplace jargon to avoid.

Why you should avoid confusing workplace jargon

According to a recent survey conducted by LinkedIn in partnership with Duolingo, 41 per cent of participants said that they’ve experienced a misunderstanding, or made a mistake at work because they didn’t know what certain workplace jargon terms meant, or they misused it themselves. Additionally, 50 per cent of those surveyed said that misunderstandings of workplace jargon resulted in wasted time every week.

So why do all of these misunderstandings happen?

Hope Wilson, PhD, a senior learning and language curriculum expert at Duolingo breaks it down: “Jargon is, by its nature, a type of language that’s exclusive to professional circles.

“The primary way you learn how to use language is by observing how others use it.

“So new employees, younger employees, remote employees — they’ll have had less of a chance to be exposed to jargon, meaning they won’t have picked up on its meaning, let alone the nuances of how to use it.”

The most confusing examples of workplace jargon

The participants of LinkedIn and Duolingo’s survey identified these 10 phrases as the most confusing workplace jargon terms used in US workplaces:

* Boiling the ocean

* Herding cats

* Ducks in a row

* Move the needle

* Run it up the flagpole

* Drinking the Kool-Aid

* Out of pocket

* Building the plane while flying it

* Throwing spaghetti at the wall

* Juice worth the squeeze

Instead of relying on these phrases to get your point across at work, LinkedIn career expert Andrew McCaskill recommends making your point simply and clearly.

For example, instead of saying “let’s get our ducks in a row before this meeting,” he suggests replacing it with something more literal, like: “Let’s get organised before this meeting.”

*Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is a bioethicist and adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham University in the USA. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, CNN & Playboy.

This article first appeared on Lifehacker

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