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Business Jargon In All Its Glory

When people come together in a group, they tend to develop new lexicons that is specific to that group and its context. Runners complain about “staying in Zone 2,” Wizards and Witches gossip about “muggles”—and somewhere in corporate-land, a mid-level manager is fervently proclaiming that it’s time for the team to “shift the paradigm.”

Over the years business jargon has become a cesspool of pretentious and annoying clichés that often obscure rather than clarify any meaning.  

In this post, we will list of few of of these offenders. Whether you find them a necessary part of the work place or an annoying plague on your day at the office, take a moment during your “bio break” to enjoy a few of these phrases that we love to hate.  

Core Competency

This terrible expression refers to a person’s fundamental strength and value—let’s disregard the fact that the word “competent” is used incorrectly here. In fact, just being competent is not really a high bar, is it? More like core mediocrity!


Essentially, an agreement on a particular course of action. In the most disingenous way. To paraphrase David Logan – a professor of management and organisation at USC’s Marchall School of Business – it basically states “I had an idea that didn’t involve you, because I don’t value your opinion enough, yet I want you to fully support it as thought you were on board from the beginning, mostly because that would make me feel pretty good.”

S.W.A.T. Team

“Special Weapons And Tactics” in law enforcement, this elite team of fit men and women who take on the most dangerous situations have been romantacized in movies and shows. In business? It is a group of “experts” (more often than not fat guys in suits) who are assembled to tackle a particular problem or opportunity. A flattering comparsion, especially if you are a fat guy in a suit. 


This incredibly condenscending transitive verb is when someone in a higher pay grade wants you to complete a task of some importance. It essentially let’s you know that “You can do this little thing, but don’t forget that I am still in charge.  I am the one that is empowering you.

Open the Kimono

This disturbingly creepy phrase basically means to reveal information. Maybe we can just keep the kimono fastened?  

Lots of Moving Parts

An old-timey arcade at a local fair has lots of moving parts. They grind, clang, whizz and give you headaches. Are you sure you want your business to do run as smooth as an old-timey arcade? No? Then perhaps leave this expression alone.

Corporate Values

An expression as phony as it is nauseating. Contrary to one particular infamous proclamation, corporations are not people. They do not have values. People who run them are people. They have values.

It Is What It Is

Breathtaking insight!

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By Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday holds degrees in English education and creative writing. As an educator, Michael specializes in corporate training having worked with IBM, Philip Morris International, and the Danone food company in Paris. He is a published author and is deeply passionate about the written word.

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