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20 Words That Make It Harder For People To Understand You At Work


Have you ever been to a meeting and wondered what language people are speaking? The foreign tongue is likely business jargon—and piling it on ensures you won’t be heard, understood, or admired for your linguistic style.

To promote clear communication with its clients, the audit, tax, and advisory services firm Grant Thornton in Chicago just compiled an index of 120 trending business buzzwords. It’s based on an analysis of Fortune 500 company websites and the language those companies used on social media, as well as common phrases in business journalism, in the first quarter of 2018. The most popular terms will sound terribly familiar.

The top five business buzzwords

“Best in class” was the number-one buzzword in the first quarter, with over 71,000 uses on websites, social media, and in business press in the first three months of 2018.

Top five business buzzwords, charted by number of uses. 1. Best in class.; 2. Value add; 3.Game changer; 4. Action plan; 5. On the same page.
Top five business buzzwords, charted by number of uses.(Grent Thornton index/Ephrat Livni chart)

Top 20 buzzwords, and the number of Q1 uses:

From “thought leadership” to “move the needle.”

Top 20 most popular jargon terms and number of uses in Q1.
Top 20 most popular jargon terms and number of uses in Q1. (Grant Thornton index/Ephrat Livni list)

Speaking in tongues:

For “thought leaders” who remain “laser focused” on a few overused phrases, here’s a plea to retire jargon—in language that speaks to you.


Don’t write like this unless you’re kidding.

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