Sometimes your best efforts to make friends and influence people can end up losing friends and alienating valuable colleagues.
Yes, we’re talking jargon: technical terms, obscure acronyms and slick buzzwords that may seem like they should promote your professional profile — but which only impress the work experience kid.
Hammering out email after email each day, it’s easy to fall into the jargon trap. Jargon is contagious: it spreads through an office quickly until everyone’s using it. Unfortunately, it then becomes a quick patch to cover shortfalls in an individual or company’s knowledge and capacity for critical thinking.
But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here because you cringe every time you hit Send on an email peppered with “blue sky thinking,” “level playing fields” and any amount of lipstick on pigs.
Resume.io wants to help you kick that into touch (sorry!). So, we’ve created a Chrome extension that will highlight jargon words and phrases in your unsent email and suggest strong, plain-English alternatives.
Our Jargon Buster Chrome extension lands as a New Zealand law requiring plain language in official communications has highlighted other unintended effects of complex phrasing.
In addition to being annoying and covering up ignorance, jargon heightens accessibility issues for readers with a learning disability or a different first language. It’s also unhelpful — and uninclusive — for people who are new to a business and still picking up the lingo.
With our new extension, you can zap those buzzwords before they leave your drafts… making you friends and maybe even influencing your office to keep communication simple.
How to Use Jargon Buster
Resume.io’s Jargon Buster is designed with simplicity in mind, and it’s straightforward to install:
- Follow this link to take you to Jargon Buster in the Chrome Web Store.
- Click the Add to Chrome button to install the extension in your browser.
- Press the ‘puzzle’ icon at the top right of your browser to see all your extensions.
- Click through to the Jargon Buster to personalize it and make sure it’s switched on.
Once it’s installed, head to your webmail of choice in Chrome and refresh the page to ensure Jargon Buster is active. Start writing an email, and when you type any of the top 100 jargon phrases we’ve identified, it will automatically be underlined in purple. (Try typing “lipstick on a pig” to get started.) Hover over the highlighted phrase to learn what it means and a plain language alternative to consider in its place.
The Common Workplace Jargon You Should “Kick Into Touch” (And What To Say Instead)
The Greek philosopher Plutarch once said of the sophists, “in their declamations and speeches they made use of words to veil and muffle their design.” We’ve all met managers like this, but well-meaning professionals defaulting to jargon out of habit can be just as harmful. As Berkeley management professor Jennifer Chatman puts it, “people use [jargon] as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”
Below we’ve highlighted 11 of today’s most commonly used buzz terms so you can snip them out of use in your face-to-face encounters as surely as from your email. Or so you can translate the strange utterances colleagues keep using on you.
Your Email is Your Calling Card… What Language Will You Use?
Professionals send and receive an average of 121 business emails a day. With that kind of inbox to wade through, it’s important to write precise, meaningful emails that cut through the sludge rather than thicken it.
But an email is also a chance to make an impression. Indeed, every message contributes to your personal brand. To convey yourself as an independent thinker who puts care into every communication, it’s time to make sure that jargon is jar-gone. Sorry. Let’s bust that one.
Methodology & sources
To create the jargon buster Chrome extension, we first pulled a list of 100 corporate jargon phrases and buzzwords from articles, listicles and studies online of the most common terms used in business.
We then found the meaning behind each term using online sources and dictionary definitions and constructed an alternative way to say each one which would be clearer, more accessible and easier for people both inside and outside of the corporate world to understand.