In Defense of Buzzwords

Buzzwords are oft-maligned for being overused or deployed in place of more simple terms to make their speaker sound more intelligent or in the know. This criticism is valid – people should be able to say what they mean without adding in fluff or jargon. But are buzzwords always bad?

Let’s be honest: “Buzzword” is just a casual, actually buzzwordy was to describe jargon. (And jargon is just special words used within an industry or group to describe things.) In certain scenarios and situations, terms that have been branded with the scarlet “B” could actually be useful. For example:

  • Within Working Groups: Teams may find that developing a common jargon or adopting buzzwords could actually aid in understanding. Unofficially agreed upon terms can be used as shorthand to describe goals or tactics. Provided everyone understands the term, or feels comfortable asking questions, buzzwords might help put everyone on the same page.
  • Across Companies or Within Industries: Like it or not, commonly used buzzwords can help likeminded people working across company lines or within a larger industry gain common ground
  • To Demonstrate Understanding: Sure, using a lot of buzzwords makes you sound like you just sit around reading industry blogs, desperately trying to stay on the cutting edge of trends. Think about this -- do you or your company want to work with someone who doesn’t desperately want to stay on the cutting edge of trends? While not every role requires people to be up-to-date with the latest industry trends, in many sectors (tech, communications, marketing, design) that’s a must-have. Just make sure folks can walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

Before you ban all buzzwords, consider if their use actually furthers your mission. You might be surprised to see a synergy form right before your eyes.

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