12 most dehumanizing jargon to ditch

No one wants to be called a “resource.” Cut these 12 words from your vocabulary to make your office a more enjoyable place.

“Can you tap a resource to execute the next project? Make sure you get it on his radar screen and really sweat the asset to get it done.”

Business jargon is somewhat incomprehensible, and always dehumanizing, demoralizing and demotivating.

We hear people utter these phrases all the time in offices all across the United States. These phrases make employees feel less human and more like replaceable parts in a massive corporate machine.

However, it is simple to rehumanize that dehumanizing business jargon.

1. Resource

One of the most dehumanizing words in corporate jargon is “resource.” It can refer to a copy machine, paper clip or person.

If the resource you’re referring to breathes air, talks and has a name, it is best not to use the word “resource.”

2. Human capital

This is a close cousin to “resource,” but at least it acknowledges that people are different from staplers.

The people who spend 40-plus hours a week working for a company are more valuable than this term implies. A company can’t survive without people.

3. Tap

“We’d like to tap your brain for this upcoming project.”

Ouch! You mean stick a metal object in my brain to drain out my intellect like I am a maple tree? No thanks. But I am happy to help you with the project.

4. It is what it is

This translates into “I have completely given up trying to solve this problem,” or “I am completely powerless to help.”

Try listening, talking and coming up with solutions to see if you can change whatever “it is” into something better.

5. Radar screen

“You need to put this on your radar screen.”

I don’t have a radar screen. Am I being promoted to an air traffic controller? Use “be aware of” or “take note.”

6. Take it to the next level

“We need to take our deliverables to the next level.”

Apparently we are playing Super Mario Brothers at work and I didn’t realize it. I will get to the next level and save Princess Peach!

Instead of this meaningless and overused phrase, outline goals for the future and how the company will get there.

7. Bleeding edge

“There has to be bleeding edge thinking on this project.”

This phrase conjures up an image of a bloody knife, which is not what I want to think about if I want to push my thinking forward.

How about using “creative thinking” or even “leading edge”? Anything is better than blood in the cubicle.

8. Execute

“How are we going to execute the project?”

This overused word brings more violent images to mind and makes me wonder what the poor project did to deserve this treatment.

Try using the simple word “do” instead.

9. Bandwidth/cycles

“I’ll see if she has any bandwidth for these additional duties.”

As much as I wish I was HAL 2000 refusing to open the pod bay doors, employees are not computers. Try this fantastic word instead: “time.”

“I’ll see if she has time for these additional duties.”

10. Sweat the asset

This refers to a company getting every last drop of value out of its resources, whether they are people or machines.

Let’s stop using this phrase when we refer to employees, OK?

11. Cross pollination

“By bringing together the two teams, we are hoping you can cross-pollinate.”

Are we getting bees in the office? Oh, you mean “share ideas.”

12. Flight risk

“I think Joe’s a flight risk.”

Have you ever thought that Joe might be a flight risk because you talk about him like a prisoner? I’d want to quit, too, if I felt like an inmate at my job.

Replacing dehumanizing language in the office is easy-just talk like a human. Use plain language that builds relationships rather than demoralizes them.

Dr. Michelle Mazur is a public speaking coach and communication expert, and blogs at Relationally Speaking. This article is republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most. This article first appeared on Ragan.com in April 2013.


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