Never use these terms in the same sentence

I attend a meeting each day where, among other things, we talk about what we’re going to stick in the ear.

This is much less threatening to people when they know that in this case, “the ear” is the upper left corner of the front page, a space where we put a few words to refer to a story somewhere inside.

Newspapers are as bad as any business when it comes to jargon. I mention this as an acknowledgement that journalists really have no right to poke fun at other jargon-filled professions or businesses.

But I’m going to do it anyway, with help from Accountemps, a staffing agency that provides accounting professionals to businesses around the globe.

It recently polled 150 senior executives from large companies about what they found as the most annoying terms and phrases in the workplace.

They include:

Thinking outside the box. It wasn’t too many years ago that KIRO-TV did this with its evening newscasts – prompting everyone to stop watching them. When everyone else is still in the box, that is probably a better way to think. Right now, KOMO-TV has its anchors out of the box on its 11 p.m. newscasts, but since it never described the move as outside the box, people actually watch them.

Paradigm. This $10 word for a commonly accepted concept is often used with the word shift, as in making a paradigm shift. This loosely translates to thinking out of the box, which we now know is good to do as long as you don’t actually tell people you’re doing it.

Redeployed people. I’ve never actually used this term myself, but I think it relates to forcing people who are really good at something to do something they hate or don’t know anything about.

Win-win. We’ve all heard this tired phase about how something worked well for both sides involved. Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps, suggests we dump it and just explain why something was successful for everyone.

Core competency. This term is generally used by companies that have expanded into new ventures and failed miserably. Instead of admitting they’ve screwed up and have to start laying off hundreds of people to save the company, they usually talk about returning to what they’ve done fairly well in the past, their core competency.

Customer-centric. As in, we’re going to stop treating people like dirt and try to figure out what they need rather than just forcing them to buy what we have.

At the end of the day. When all is said and done, at the end of the project, etc. Not to be confused with “back in the day,” which is also pretty offensive.

Hopefully, we’ll say goodbye to all these tired terms in 2005.

But wait, there are some new ones coming online.

Here, according to Accountemps, is a list of business buzzwords that will likely hang around for a while.

Water cooler games. Co-worker discussions.

Critical path. The right steps to take.

Bandwidth. The amount of time and resources needed for a project.

Download. Assess the facts of a particular situation.

Brain dump. Sharing all the needed information when handing a project over to the a successor.

Now that we’ve all gotten on the same page, I’m going to pick some low-hanging fruit until it’s time to write next week’s column, which will not be about synergy, metrics or anything involving words like value-added or Generation X.

MIke Benbow: 425-339-3459; benbow@heraldnet.com.

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