November 7 2023. Stemta Corporation
What is Corporate Speak?
What is Corporate Jargon?
Here is a funny story!
Once upon a time in the bustling halls of MegaCorp Inc., there was an enthusiastic young employee named Bob. Bob had just joined the company and was determined to climb the corporate ladder. He’d spent hours studying the company’s handbook, full of corporate jargon, and was eager to impress.
One day, Bob was in a meeting with his colleagues discussing a new project. Eager to contribute, he raised his hand and said, “I think we should synergize our core competencies to achieve paradigm-shifting results.”
The room fell silent. Everyone stared at Bob, trying to decipher his statement. The manager scratched his head and asked, “Bob, could you explain what you mean?”
Bob, undeterred, continued, “Well, we should think outside the box and leverage our best practices to grab the low-hanging fruit, aligning our ducks in a row for maximum ROI.”
The bewildered looks on his colleagues’ faces only deepened. Susan, a senior team member, couldn’t contain her laughter and burst out, “Bob, this isn’t a buzzword bingo! Can you tell us in plain English what you’re suggesting?”
Bob blushed and cleared his throat. “Uh, what I mean is, let’s work together and use our strengths to come up with great ideas that will make us more money!”
The room erupted in laughter. Even the manager couldn’t help but chuckle. “Bob,” he said, “That’s a great idea! Let’s do exactly that.”
From that day on, Bob learned that in the world of what is corporate speak, sometimes it’s best to keep it simple and speak in plain language. He went on to have a successful career, always remembering that clarity and a touch of humor are often the best tools for climbing the corporate ladder at Megacorp Inc.
In the vast and often bewildering world of what is corporate speak, it’s no wonder that employees and outsiders alike sometimes struggle to decipher what’s being said. In an effort to shed some light on this bewildering lexicon of business babble, we’ve compiled a handy guide to decode the mysterious language of what is corporate speak.
- “Let me check with my team” = No
You might think this corporate jargon means your colleague is diligently consulting their colleagues, but in reality, it’s just a polite way of saying, “No, I don’t want to do that.”
- “Possibly” = No
If you hear this word, you might be tempted to believe there’s a glimmer of hope. Don’t be fooled; it’s just a softer way of saying “No.”
- “On my roadmap” = Not happening
When someone mentions that a project is “on their roadmap,” what they really mean is that it’s stuck in traffic and won’t be arriving anytime soon.
- “This will be done in Q4” = This will be done in Q2 next year
In the corporate world, we like to operate on a different calendar. When your boss tells you a project will be completed in Q4, they actually mean it’ll see the light of day next year, somewhere around Q2.
- “Disagree and commit” = I hate you
It sounds like a harmonious way to handle disagreements, but what it truly means is that your colleague vehemently despises your idea but is willing to pretend they don’t for the sake of peace.
- “Per my last email” = Try reading, for once in your life
Subtle and passive-aggressive, this phrase implies that you are expected to have read the previous email thoroughly, but you clearly haven’t. Ouch.
- “Challenging landscape” = We’re going out of business, quickly
When your CEO mentions the “challenging landscape,” it’s time to update your resume, quickly.
- “Digital transformation” = We’re going out of business, slowly
The journey towards “digital transformation” is a long and winding road, often leading straight to corporate oblivion.
- “Let’s circle back” = We’ll never speak of this again
If you hear someone suggesting to “circle back,” it’s a polite way of saying, “Let’s bury this issue in the graveyard of forgotten conversations.”
- “Take it offline” = We’ll never speak of this again
Similar to “circle back,” but with an added emphasis on secrecy. Taking something “offline” is a covert operation meant to avoid public scrutiny.
- “30,000 foot view” = I don’t know what I’m saying
The speaker is attempting to sound profound, but all they’re really saying is that they have no idea what’s happening on the ground.
- “Low hanging fruit” = Easy promotion
If someone identifies “low hanging fruit,” it means they’ve spotted an easy path to career advancement. So, grab your step ladder and start climbing.
- “Open up the kimono” = HR violation
If you’re ever invited to “open up the kimono,” it’s a good time to remind everyone about boundaries and HR policies.
- “We use AI” = We don’t use AI
In an age of artificial intelligence, claiming you “use AI” makes you sound tech-savvy, but it often means you’ve never even met a real AI.
- “We use machine learning” = We don’t use machine learning
Just like “We use AI,” this statement is typically used to make a company seem more cutting-edge than it really is.
- “All hands on deck” = Let’s actually try for once, please
When you hear this phrase, it’s a desperate plea for everyone to stop slacking off and put in some real effort.
- “Lean in” = k1ll yourself harder please
Encouraging employees to “lean in” essentially translates to asking them to work even harder, even though they’re already stretched to their limits.
- “Work-life balance” = There is only work
Mentioning “work-life balance” is a nod to the existence of a mythical creature. In reality, there’s only work.
- “We’re looking at it” = Decisions have been made, but we’re not going to tell you
When a decision has been made but nobody wants to admit it, you’ll often hear, “We’re looking at it.”
- “Shifting on the fly” = Well THAT didn’t work
This phrase is usually muttered when a well-thought-out plan falls apart, and it’s time to scramble for a new one.
- “Synergy” = Confusing mix of ideas
When you hear about “synergy,” brace yourself for an incomprehensible combination of concepts that may or may not make sense.
- “Streamlining processes” = Layoffs are coming
The corporate euphemism for impending layoffs. If they’re “streamlining processes,” it’s time to polish your resume.
- “Let’s take a deep dive” = Prepare for a long and boring meeting
“Deep dive” meetings are the corporate version of an endurance test, designed to see how long you can stay awake while discussing minute details.
- “We’re in a transition phase” = Chaos and uncertainty
When a company claims to be in a “transition phase,” it usually means they have no idea what’s going on.
- “Alignment” = Everyone better agree with me
In the corporate world, “alignment” is the polite way of saying, “You better see things my way, or else.”
- “Best practices” = Copy what successful companies do
The paradox of “best practices” is that they often involve copying what others do, not necessarily doing what’s best for your company.
- “Let’s touch base” = I forgot about our last conversation
If someone suggests it’s time to “touch base,” they’ve probably forgotten everything you discussed previously.
- “Let’s leverage our core competencies” = Stick to what we’re good at (if we know what that is)
Suggesting you “leverage core competencies” is the corporate way of admitting you have no idea what your core competencies are.
- “Strategic retreat” = We messed up, but let’s pretend it was planned
When things go south, the corporate tactic is to call it a “strategic retreat” and hope no one notices it’s actually a full-blown disaster.
- “Let’s park that idea” = We’re never revisiting that idea
If your brilliant idea is suggested to be “parked,” it’s probably destined to rust away in the corporate parking lot forever.
What is Corporate Speak?
What is corporate speak refers to a style of communication commonly used in the corporate or business world. It often involves the use of jargon, buzzwords, and vague or overly formal language that can make communication seem impersonal, bureaucratic, or obfuscating. While the specific terms associated with corporate speak phrases may change over time, the overall purpose is to convey information or ideas in a way that aligns with the culture and expectations of the business environment.
In the world of corporate jargon, words often don’t mean what they seem to. So next time you find yourself swimming in a sea of buzzwords and jargon, just remember that “let’s take a deep dive” into the hilariously convoluted language of what is corporate speak.