There are a few fashionable words and phrases thrown about in business that I simply can’t stand. They are used to shut down conversation, make something sound like something it’s not, or ask for something in a way they don’t mean. Here is my list of un-favorites.
- Best Practices - I despise this one the most because it doesn’t mean a damn thing. “Our product incorporates Best Practices”. Really? How did you know that? How did you come to that conclusion? Which other practices were considered and why were they rejected as only good? Never an answer. It’s just marketing BS to make their stuff sound better than the competition.
- Intuitive - “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning” is the dictionary definition. Generally used by technology vendors to make it sound like using their software is child’s play, and you, the buyer should feel ashamed if you don’t understand it at first glance.
- Partnership - “an arrangement where parties, known as partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests”. Generally used in business to shut down any conversation on why a particular vendor is preferred even when they cost way too much or deliver crappy service. Just ask what’s the “mutual interest”. Nada.
- Candid - Makes it sound like the requester is looking for an honest opinion and is expecting to hear the worst. Try that someday and tell me how that worked for you.
- Politically Correct - A “polite” way of saying that it’s not fair or not right, but we do it anyway. If you’re the one being told that, that generally means you’re the one being screwed. Has nothing to do with politics, where being politically correct has true value.
- To Tell The Truth and Well Honestly - How did these ever get any traction? It’s like they’re saying “I lie most of the time, but just this once I’ll give you the truth”. Should I just ignore everything you say until you preface it with “Hey I’m not lying this time”?
If you catch me rolling my eyes after any of these words are spoken, you’ll know you’ve just tapped my “that’s just plain stupid” nerve and I’ve likely just tuned you out. Just so you’re forewarned.
"Employee Engagement" - that's when the employer wants their employees to do the "right thing" even though they put explicit incentives in place to the contrary. Alas, study after study has shown that explicit motivators - raises, bonuses, promotions, fines, etc. - typically override implicit motivators - pride, integrity, ethics, empathy.
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