Behold! The Most Hated BS Business-Speak Buzzwords, Ranked

In a survey (yes, someone actually studied this) of over 1,000 professionals, GetResponse set out to discover the most hated buzzwords and “business-speak” we encounter routinely.

The results are synergistic, and offer the biggest bang for your buck. Like any survey, it’s a value-added proposition, and the GetResponse crew are total badass rockstars who crushed it with amazing synergy for doing the study… but we’ll circle back on that.

As per our previous article (this backlink is just a friendly reminder that we also loathe buzzwords), we know buzzwords are hated. Because they suck. Maybe it’s my overly-analytical tech professional side, but nobody is a ninja. Also, if reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that rockstars are often dirty and not the brightest bulbs – so why would you want to be one of them?!

The most-hated term for “working harder” is interestingly complex. GetResponse broke their findings out regionally, which causes some fuzziness with results. Overall, the most hated term is: “We want you to take your career to the next level,” which, I mean, screw you, bosses, the “next level” is more money, so pay up!

Second on that list: “We’re asking for 110 percent.” And if your boss ever says that to you, we advocate and support you hitting them back with a chart describing that you already give 100 percent, and 110 percent means you should receive a 10 percent raise.

“Biggest bang for the buck” and “value-added” were the most-hated terms for project performance. “Badass,” “rockstar,” and “ninja” scored highest for hated terms when describing ideal candidates for a job. The most “aggressive” email lines are “as per my last email” (we can all read, Karen, calm down), and “just a friendly reminder” (we mean it: calm down, Karen, ugh).

As for the most hated term overall… it’s “synergy.” I happen to like that word, but it’s definitely overused, and let’s all agree to hate it forever. “Teamwork,” “touch base,” “raising the bar,” and “think outside the box” round out the top five most-hated buzzwords in business.

Some of the phrases we hate are fine. Synergy, again, is a perfectly okay word. A term such as “drink the Kool Aid” is insensitive, but ultimately not bad. Some, like “crush it,” actually do suck and should never be used. Really, these terms and phrases are hated because they’re overused, so don’t overuse them! Simple.

22 Responses to “Behold! The Most Hated BS Business-Speak Buzzwords, Ranked”

  1. wageSlave

    My favorite phrase to hate is, “We have to do more with less”. Which replaced the old cliché, “We need to squeeze blood from a turnip”. You do not get more with less you get less with less. This is the BS speak of management that really wants to make the stock price go up 1/32 of a point by cutting staff and dumping there load on the remaining staff. While I like the term BS speak which is self-descriptive in both connotation, I prefer propaganda speak because of the stronger negative connotation. Nevertheless, I cannot argue that this phrase is not BS.

    “The Cloud” which is sales speak for overpriced internet hosting is way up there on the BS scale. Top two at least. I’m surprised it is not mentioned. “The Cloud” is also management speak for we are going to make the stock price go up 1/32 of a point by out sourcing the IT staff and hand out “Real men don’t manage servers anymore” T-shirts.

    “We can’t find qualified American workers” has to be number one management BS speak for we want to make the stock price go up 1/32 of a point by bringing in foreign workers at a discount and making our current workers train them before they “leave”. “Leave” isn’t that a euphemism for joining the unemployed homeless down by the river. Out of sight out mind.

    • TogaParty

      Holy Crap. I worked at IBM in 199X and not only were they saying “We have to do more with less” back then but, they added “It’s gonna get worse, before it gets better!” Therefore, it will never got better.

  2. Kevin C Freeman

    I just got the axe because of this BS. It truly all comes back to the fact that American Greed is the first and only bottom line they care about. How much can we take away from the workers and send to some other company or overseas group, so we can increase our profits? Sadly, many times this all comes back to bit them in the backside, but in the meantime their workers are the major losers.

  3. Allison

    My most hated phrase is “hit the ground running”. This phrase, whether it’s a new hire or a project, is a nice way of saying “throw you in the deep end” — which is itself is an admission that someone will get started on a project or in a company with no training or preparation and will be expected to perform like they had both.

  4. Some Sap on the Internet

    My least favorite has lasted undefeated from the 90s: resources. When you call people resources, you see them as interchangeable tools, not as people.

    I saw a Power point presentation not aimed at me that referred to anyone VP and above as “talent”. Everyone else was a “resource”. Pretty eye-opening.

  5. Having worked at factories since graduating college (no local jobs in my field) I learned to hate two phrases.

    1. “We want to be a world class company”: that means they are starting a cycle of whip cracking, stricter rules, and benefit cutting.

    2. “Lean manufacturing” This means they are cutting the number of workers on a line but running it as fast if not faster. Also expect to do steps that took place off the line on the line while still doing work on the line. Basicly say hello to repetitive motion injuries.

  6. If I have to hear “reach out” one more time. Oh wait, I hear it 10 times every day, at least. Call them, email them, contact them, I don’t care but reaching out is what you do with alcoholics.

  7. For the opposite take (oops! Should I have used the phrase, “other side of the coin”?) My last boss before I Retired For Real (3rd time was the charm), despite a typical assortment of shortcomings, was wont to say, and say often, “Well, That’s Fantastic!”

    Acronymize that three word quote, and you’ll understand . . . .

  8. “Where are we in the movie?” is my most hated. Gah! Unless you are a film director, stop using analogies that just don’t apply to your real-life work. Just call it what it is… “presentation, program, task, brief, project, sprint, etc…”. Analogies can become more distracting than helpful.

  9. In my environment the most irritating is “visibility” as in you should work on this miserable project because you are going to have to regularly present to management which will increase your “visibility” so in the future when you are looking for a promotion it may increase your chances of getting one.

    • wageSlave

      I hear you JJ, ‘visibility’ falls under the propaganda category of motivation by handing out lottery tickets. Even if you succeed in getting the ticket, the likelihood of receiving the payoff is so low it is not worth the effort to get the ticket. Motivation by lottery gets so overused that it eventually leads to, ‘Good/Hard work is always rewarded with MORE work. Not more money. Not more opportunity. Just more work.” More work until you reach the Peter Principal and then you get passed over consistently at your new forced level of incompetence.

      Well, ‘If you don’t play you cannot win.” Which is technically correct. However, when the likelihood of success so remote it rivals a lottery (almost not at all), then motivated by ‘visibility’ amounts to wage slavery. “Dogs that are chasing their tails are going nowhere as fast as they can”.

  10. The other one is “remain competitive in the industry” this is code for we were giving you better benefits than most of the other employers in the industry so now we are going to start reducing or eliminating them.

  11. Yeah, I totally agree about “reach out”; it’s high on my list of silly and unnecessary neologisms. But I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned the one that’s at the top of my list: “going forward”. There are numerous other terms that we’ve used all our lives (e.g. “from now on” and “in the future”) which are perfectly adequate. Where did “going forward” originate, and why do people prefer to use it instead of those others? Example: “Team: Please reach out to your counterparts in other departments and let them know that this is how we’ll be doing things going forward.”

  12. The only people who hate the deliciousness of a well-deployed “as per my last email” are the people who don’t read or act on their emails. Don’t hate on Karen, Karen’s just trying to get her shit done.