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Business Jargon: Core Competency, Buy-In, and More

Like any form of jargon, business jargon is meant to solidify bonds between a social group.
Forbes recently identified their least-favorite items of business jargon. The full list, if you don't care to do all that clicking, is:
  • Core Competency
  • Buy-In
  • SWAT Team
  • Empower
  • Open the Kimono
  • Bleeding Edge
  • Lots of Moving Parts
  • Corporate Values
  • Make Hay
  • Scalable
  • Best Practice
  • Think Outside the Box
  • Solution
  • Leverage
  • Vertical
  • Over the Wall
  • Robust
  • Learnings
  • Boil the Ocean
  • Reach Out
  • Punt
  • Impact
  • Giving 110%
  • Take It To The Next Level
  • It Is What It Is
 
Like any form of jargon, business jargon is meant to solidify bonds between a social group. Whether it's a teenager saying "wack," a server admin saying "bounce," or a business person saying "incentivize," these slang and jargon terms are often aggressively opaque to outsiders. 
 
In many cases, jargon is a re-purposed "real word." Such is the case for business jargon like "impact," which does after all mean a real thing. But if you use the word "impact" in its dictionary sense in a business meeting, people will look at you funny. It will brand you as an outsider.
 
The words themselves are virtually meaningless. Sure, a lot of these jargon terms are grating. Many of them say poorly what another word says well. But the function of the words exists at a level beyond the bare bones of language, to the function of language itself. Jargon terms signify not only that "I belong here" but that "I have mastered the social cues of this subculture." And perhaps more importantly, that "I have embraced this subculture whole-heartedly, which you can tell, because I am constantly using crazy-ass terms like "buy-in" and "push-back.""
 
Honestly, there are some business jargon terms that I have kept from my time in the business world. The aforementioned "push-back" is a good one, along with its cousin, "friction." Saying that you're "getting some push-back on that project" is a nice, polite way to say "John Doe is being an obstructionist jerk." It can also mean that "people aren't happy with this," but without having to be directly confrontational.
 
In fact, if you study a lot of business jargon, much of it exists in order to signal confrontation without engaging in it. The corporate world is a world of proxy wars and turf battles, and frequently the loser is the one who displays their aggression most openly. Jargon terms are like the passive voice in writing; they let you say things without really saying them. It's frustrating, but sometimes helpful.
 
And the term "monetizing" is just genius, frankly. That's a rare example of a jargon term that has no better equivalent that isn't longer and more clunky. Plus, you can use it to make people laugh, as when I remarked the other day that my friend needed to figure out a way to monetize his dog's bad behavior, like hiring her out as a document shredder.