Words become buzzwords and phrases become catch phrases for several reasons. Some are catchy and fun to say. Many provide verbal shortcuts. Some of the most uncreative administrators and executives I know litter their conversations with buzzwords and catch phrases to the point where conversations become meaningless.
Here are some words that should be placed in front of a verbal firing squad and trigger an end to their vapid existences.
Vetted. Maybe I don’t like this word because it gained popularity during the Bush administration. Let the veterans and veterinarians hold onto it and keep Vet out of job searches and politics. In fact check out the origin of “vet.” It will make you whinny
Literally. People literally use this word too much. I see and hear it several times a day on everything from blogs to interviews on NPR. “Literally” is the new “ironically” which was used correctly maybe 2% of the time. Really.
Ironically. Actually, I think this word has been quietly tossed into the sea of washed out words and there was no irony in the act.
Best practices. I hate this phrase. It’s used so much that it’s lost its meaning. One of the shallowest, most ineffective executives I’ve known loved to use the phrase to cover his own ineptness. “Let’s check out best practices.” What the phrase means is that we’ll check what others are doing and adopt something, sometimes without even adapting it. Living by following others’ best practices means you’re not using your own creativity. You are, simply, stealing.
Takeaway. The verdict still out on this one. It’s short and descriptive, but is in danger of being overused to the point losing its substance. See “best practices.”
Outside the box. People who use this phrase are usually still in the box and will remain remain there. They should be sealed in and delivered to the Museum of Terminally Boxed-in People. Here’s the history.
Granular. I was at a conference last during which a really boring presenter used this phrase at least 20 times, partly, I think, to show how hip she was. I fully expected her to step away from the podium and start singing “Granular, granular, let’s get granular” to the tune of Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical.”
Finally, there is a word I know I’m going to come to dislike even though I believe in the concept. It was refreshing to hear it used by Barack Obama. It helped get him elected. But in these rough times we’re all being asked to do things differently and the word we’re going to hear in all these discussions is change. Most of the time it will be used in the same mindless manner as the other words I’ve cited.
Anyone else have a word or phrase they’d like to see dismembered letter-by-letter?