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Top 50 Corporate Jargon to Help You Survive High-Level Meetings
For those new to corporate culture, an initial confusion is inevitable when a team member or manager asks you to revert to a task by EOD. Of course, they soon learn that it means End of Day (EOD). Other terms get casually used, such as synergy, bandwidth, and brain dump, and while you may know the literal meaning of the words, you might feel embarrassed to ask them the context when used at the workplace. What this means is that they are communicating with you in corporate jargon, and it is time to update your vocabulary. To help you, here is a cheat sheet of popular corporate jargon to avoid the awkwardness and communicate better with your teammates.
What is Corporate Jargon?
Corporate jargon is essentially workplace language, and is used to describe a set of words, phrases, or acronyms used in a business or corporate setup. These can be difficult to understand for people new to the environment. Corporate jargon is also called corporate lingo, corporate speak, or management speak. Jargon is deeply rooted in the corporate culture. These words or phrases or acronyms stay in use for such a long time that they become part of the vocabulary.
Why Does Jargon Exist?
Even though the use of corporate jargon at workplaces is considered unnecessary and even mocked at sometimes, here are some of the reasons why jargon still exists:
- It is used to convey unique ideas and directions or emphasize on a crucial matter.
- Some people use corporate jargon to sound more knowledgeable or appear more professional.
- People have been using jargon for so long that it slips in, often unconsciously.
Top 50 Corporate Jargon Words and What They Mean
Here are the top 50 most commonly used corporate jargon to make communication in your corporate life a bit easier.
1. Actionable Items
An actionable item or action item refers to a task or action that needs to be performed by an individual or a team. You can understand it as a ‘to-do list’.
ASAP is the acronym for ‘as soon as possible’. Asking to submit the work ASAP means that something is urgently required.
To put something on the backburner means to de-prioritize a task.
4. Baked in
If something is baked in, it is already included. This is commonly used for factors or elements ‘baked in’ or included in a financial or business model or roadmap.
5. Balls in the Air
Corporate professionals use the phrase ‘balls in the air’ when several activities or tasks are going on simultaneously. It has the same meaning as the phrase ‘too much on the plate’.
Bandwidth is the capacity to take on more work. If your team member asks you whether you have the bandwidth to take on a new project, what they are asking is if you have the time, capacity, and resources to handle the additional responsibilities.
7. Bleeding Edge
Cutting or bleeding edge is used to describe a novel product, idea, creation, or innovation, especially related to technology.
8. Blue Sky Thinking
Blue sky thinking refers to finding creative solutions or innovative ideas. It simply means to think out of the box.
9. Boil the Ocean
This refers to taking on a challenging or difficult task or increasing the scope of an activity to the extent that it becomes potentially impossible.
10. Brain Dump
It is essentially an idea log, which translates to noting down rough ideas or pointers on paper, phone, or laptop during a brainstorming session.
11. Break Down the Silos
It refers to collaborating or working with other teams to reduce barriers and improve efficiency.
12. Bring to the Table
This is common corporate jargon, so much so that people have even started using it in their daily lives. Bring to the table is used to refer to the skills, expertise, ideas, or experience that you can offer to a project, task, or organization.
13. Circle Back
When someone says they will circle back to you on this, it simply means they’ll discuss it with you later.
14. Core Competencies
Core competencies means the most prominent skills in an employee or teammate.
In business terms, a deck is a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation. For instance, investor deck is a very commonly used phrase in startups.
16. Deep Dive
Deep diving into something means doing in-depth research or thorough analysis on a given topic.
Deliverables refer to the tasks or responsibilities assigned to you. For instance, providing an update on your deliverables means sharing your task progress.
18. Drink the Kool-Aid
Drinking the kool-aid refers to agreeing with someone’s ideas or philosophy without thinking or questioning.
19. Ducks in a Row
This means getting organized or making all of the necessary preparations for a task or project, say a presentation or seminar.
Businesses refer to those customers as evangelists who are strong advocates of the brand and promote it often.
21. Game Changer
It refers to a unique or amazing plan that can give a significant competitive advantage to a business.
22. Get on Board
Getting on board means to agree with a plan, strategy or idea.
23. Good to Go
This is one of the most commonly used phrases in the corporate world. It means confirming that a task, project, or action item is fine and can be sent ahead.
24. Hard Stop
Hard stop is used by people to specify a particular time to end a meeting because the person has some other commitment or conflict.
Headwinds is corporate jargon used to describe challenges or constraints that slow down business growth.
26. Herding Cats
This is a negative phrase mainly used by managers to describe that their team members are disagreeable or difficult to deal with.
27. Jump the Shark
Jumping the shark is a negative term that is used to describe that a brand is no longer preferred by consumers. Alternatively, it also suggests that its popularity has caused its quality to deteriorate. Laser Focus
Laser focus is the corporate way of saying extreme focus.
This corporate jargon means to use a resource or a situation in an effective, advantageous manner.
29. Low-Hanging Fruit
It describes an easy task or opportunity that provides quick and good results.
30. Make Hay While the Sun Shines
This phrase means to take maximum advantage of a situation, or exploit an opportunity.
31. Move the Goalposts
Moving the goalposts refers to changing the objectives, scope or requirements.
32. Move the Needle
Moving the needle means showing small but quantifiable results.
The term ninja is used to describe a highly-skilled professional or an expert. Corporate professionals also use ‘guru’ or ‘thought-leaders’ in place of ninja.
Providing a one-pager refers to creating a summary or pointers of a report or plan in a single page.
35. Over the Wall
Throwing something over the wall means passing on or sending the information to clients or customers.
36. Pain Point
Corporate professionals use pain points to describe a problem or challenge faced by a business which has a significant impact on them.
37. Paradigm Shift
This means a change in approach or perspective about a business idea or brand.
38. Park it
Parking a project or idea means to keep something on hold until you get approval from another team member or an event occurs.
39. Push the Envelope
When you ask someone to push the envelope, it means that you are asking the person to give their best. It simply suggests getting the most out of someone.
Resonate in the business world means to be able to relate with someone’s ideas, suggestions, or situation.
41. Reinvent the Wheel
This means to go back and start something all over again, perform a similar task, or do something that has already been done earlier.
42. Run up the Flagpole
Running something up the flagpole means to get feedback or approval from team members.
43. Skin in the Game
Skin in the game is a complex phrase for describing the ownership of an investor. It means having an interest in the outcome of an event or a project.
Synergy is used to describe the positive outcome of teamwork or collaboration between different departments or teams.
45. Touch Base
Touching base with someone means you will communicate, talk or discuss something with them.
46. Throw Under the Bus
Throwing your teammate under the bus means to put the blame on them for something gone wrong, especially when your teammate is not expecting it.
When a business, idea, or campaign is gaining traction, it means that it is becoming popular, achieving the desired results, or gaining momentum.
48. Trim the Fat
Trimming the fat refers to cutting down or reducing unnecessary things like expenses, project or project details.
49. White Paper
What this simply means is a detailed business report on a specific subject.
50. Silver Bullet
A one-stop, easy solution to a very complicated problem(s).
Even after learning the jargon, professionals find corporate culture stressful and highly competitive. You have to push yourself to reach the top and build a successful career. Learning the corporate jargon will help you fit in. But upskilling yourself in the field of your choice will also help you grow career-wise. To that end, sign up for Emeritus’ online courses across a wide range of subjects to learn relevant skills and industry insights.
By Sneha Chugh
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