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Salesforce Overheard: 51 Examples of Jargon — Here’s What To Say Instead

Let’s all get together and ban business jargon, shall we?

An illustration showing two people ripping a word balloon, symbolizing a move away from business jargon.
Use words that represent the way you talk to someone in your family. [Malte Müeller/Getty]

Business jargon. Almost nobody loves it, yet somehow sneaky business terminology rears its head within your otherwise wonderfully relatable copy and conversations at work. All. The. Time. 

There are common crutch phrases like “move the needle” and “put a pin in it.” (What’s with all the sharp, pointy things, friends?) And then there are somewhat atrocious sayings like “eat our own dog food.” (I’m not even going to go there.)  

The problems with business jargon are many. First and foremost, it’s exclusive, meaning only understood by a select group of people. People outside your bubble may not have the faintest clue what you are referring to when you say that something is “greenfield.” (I’ve been there!) So if you’re aiming to be inclusive with your language, please stay far away from business jargon like this.   

Would you use terms like ‘wheelhouse’ and ‘silo’ at your 4-year-old niece’s birthday party?

Skip business jargon and focus writing the way you talk

Second, it’s not human or conversational. Would you use terms like “wheelhouse” and “silo” at your 4-year-old niece’s birthday party? Probably not. But do you hear words like this in the occasional corporate meeting? My guess is yes. Let’s make the articles you write for your job places where your readers actually want to hang out. The key to this? Use words that represent the way you talk to someone in your family. 

Finally, some business jargon is a result of outdated societal norms. It doesn’t take much digging on the internet to find the racist or misogynistic origins of phrases like blacklist, quarterback, and grandfathering in. I think we can all agree that it’s time for some new norms.

People fall into speaking and writing with these types of words because they want to fit in. 

Be intentional with words to boost inclusivity and equality

There’s one more point I want to make about business terminology. Psychologically speaking, people fall into speaking and writing with these types of words because they want to fit in. Humans are social beings. If the majority of those around us are using business jargon, our primal instincts kick in, and we start using it too. This is the ancient cave dweller part of our brain — the part that doesn’t want to face being left behind or potentially being killed for standing out. 

Thank goodness we don’t live in cave times any more! We can consciously choose the words we use to boost inclusivity, humanity, and equality at work. 

If the majority of those around us are using business jargon, our primal instincts kick in, and we start using it too. [Malte Müeller / Getty]

Try these words instead of business jargon

In the spirit of #NoNewJargon (yes, that’s a reframe of #NoNewTaxes), I’m sharing some commonly used business terms below. And, of course, I’m passing on some helpful words to use instead, courtesy of copywriters, technical writers, and other wordsmiths across Salesforce. 

Instead of using… …try this instead
The Ask Request
Alignment Agreement
All on the same page Shared understanding
Bandwidth Time
Big Hairy Aggressive Goal (BHAG) Aggressive goal
Buy-in Support
Circle back Revisit
Critical Mass Consensus
Deep dive Detailed analysis
Deliverable Output; work product
Double click See more detail
Drill down Learn more
Ducks in a row Prepared
Eat our own dogfood Use our own products
Game changer Made a difference
Get up to speed Learn the latest information
Granular Detailed
Greenfield New
Groundswell Positive momentum; growth
Heads up Inform
Holistic Complete
Impact Effect
Laser focus Focus
Learnings Knowledge
Leverage Use
Low-hanging fruit Easiest tasks to perform
Massage Adjust
Mindshare Awareness
Move the needle Make progress
Nailed it Did a great job
Next generation New
Optimize Make better
Organic Natural
Out of the box Standard functionality
Out of pocket Unavailable
Paradigm Model
Put a pin in it Discuss later
Quick win Easy success
Reach out Contact
Seamless Smooth
Silos Separate teams
Solutioning Solving
Sweet spot Area of expertise
Sync up Meet
Synergy Common understanding
Take offline Discuss later
Table the discussion Discuss later
Tee it up Introduce
Touch base Connect
Unpack Deconstruct
Utilize Use
Value-added Improved
Wheelhouse Area of expertise

Have another business term to add to the list? Tweet your feelings to @Salesforce and we’ll add them.

Salesforce’s Chris Duarte on how to start your own voice and tone program.

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