Five words I hate at work


Stakeholders (grrrrr)




(disclaimer: I use these words often in the workplace, because sometimes jargon seems to suggest credibility…)

While we’re at it, haven’t got a lot of time for ‘vision’ at the moment (cue inevitable Mark O’Neill punchline…)

  1. Can you share, Jeremy, why you hate those words? What’s wrong with the first three, for instance, which are transformative words?

  2. The only people entitled to talk about “vision” at work are opticians.

    Will that do?

  3. Oh and everybody says that stakeholders are key people to liaise with.

    But what if you’re a vampire?

  4. @Ari – they’re thrown around without any consideration for their meaning leading to devaluing them.

    @Mark – keep ’em coming.

  5. Engagement traditionally leads to marriage. Is that seriously what proponents are proposing?

    Many projects would be much more successful if they were “pessimised” as opposed to optimised. Before people start worrying about optimising websites or communication channels perhaps they should ask themselves if there is actually an audience out there in the first place? Too often “optimise” means “it’s the website’s fault that no one is interested in this topic”

    Would you say “I transitioned out of the front door?” And would anybody ever talk to you again?

    The root of “facilitate” is “facile”

  6. alright, that’s enough!

  7. How much will you pay me to stop?

    • andrewlewin
    • September 10th, 2008

    I hate ‘stakeholders’ too – it’s been overused and stretched out of all meaning. It used to mean the key decision makers (those who stood to lose their jobs/money); then it became everyone wanting a say and sticking their oar in to the project; then it became everyone who’s ever going to use this service (no, that’s target audience/users/clients!) and now it’s just everyone. We are all stakeholders in government! “Ich bin ein stakeholder”. Which makes it meaningless.

    *The* word I hate in digital media; “paradigm”. I’ve even used it by accident myself and felt physically ill. So pretentious.

    And the word I hate in general, for crimes against the English language: “incentivise”. Just yuck.

    • Ed
    • September 10th, 2008

    In context of the day job, you forgot a few more important candidate words:
    Government web community

  8. @Andrew – any word that is turned into a verb drives me mad.

    @Ed – well yes, you said it! Also ‘digital people’? sounds like a bad 70’s sci fi programme….

  9. DIALOGUE!!!! For goodness sake 🙂

  10. “Leverage” is my favourite word to hate.

    Boils down to over-use by a certain ad agency boss I worked for.

  11. @Shane: couldn’t agree more.

    Education, irrigation, the aquaducts, sanitation etc etc

  12. We have a “consultancy speak” tin at work which acts like a swear box.

    Mind you, I’d like to see an episode of “Digital People”

  13. This could easily turn into a bullsh*t bingo grid if we’re not careful.

  14. I agree 115% (sorry!) about Stakeholders. In most contexts it’s just become a synonym for ‘people’. And even worse than that is the way the word is used to make up stories about what some weird, fictional people might want out of some project or other. It’s similar to the way the US film industry does audience-testing. Pah.

    But then, I don’t really like word ‘project’ and ‘project management’ especially in the particularly bureaucratic form used by dimwits that have just been on a Prince2 course drives me madder than a mad thing that’s been sectioned and been told by the other mad things sectioned with it that even they think it’s particularly mad, even for a mad thing.

  15. @ minifigpootles We are of one mind

  16. I’m late to this one… my contribution: ‘best practice’ and ‘examplar’. Almost always used in the context of current crapness, and serving only to highlight the yawning chasm between the mindboggling mess we’re in now and a nonsense nirvana someone would like us to live in.

  17. Its never to late to join any party of mine Steph! So many glaring misses from me, should have called it 15 words I hate at work! I always draw the line at best practice, though i do sometimes refer to ‘good’ practice.

    • Paul
    • September 10th, 2008

    @andrew – you slipped another demon word in there – “key”. Keys open doors. Important, valuable or noteworthy things deserve full, not faint, praise. I used to rate the quality of reports by the inverse of the number of occurrences of that little word. Almost as weaselly as ‘appropriate’ – oooh don’t get me started…

  18. I’m about to call “house!”

  19. How about “work”? That’s the word I hate the most.

  20. @Mark on the money – you win the prize

  21. Before you call time, Jeremy, can I just point out that I wrote a consultantese/English dictionary some years ago – updated in 2004 – in an attempt to get to grips with this awful language. Or at least, to take the piss out of it. PDF copies are now available via the obvious post at my blog –

  22. This really doesn’t leave many words. What’s the alternative to “dialogue”?, la Mulqueeny? Hmm? HMMM?

    And.. hang about… on my desk I have a document you wrote jeremy with “Engage” as one of the headings!

  1. September 16th, 2008
  2. September 20th, 2008

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