Nothing kills the mood quite like business jargon. Those are the corporate-y sounding words that seem to exist because people think it makes them seem like a Serious Business Professional (For Real, Seriously) when using them. After all, only a Serious Business Professional (For Real, Seriously) would use the word “leverage” multiple times a day, right?

These words have no connotations associated with them, good or bad.

They’re neutral. They’re inoffensive. They don’t say anything.

In short, they’ve got to go.

But first, how do I know if it’s jargon?

Here’s a simple test.

Do you ever use this word in real, live conversation? Would you ever use this word at brunch with your mom and your cousin? How about on a casual Saturday morning to your spouse?

Like

I’m making a snack. See, I’m leveraging this spoon to get peanut butter out of the jar.

Or

Be right back, I’m going to implement this new light bulb since the old one burned out.

Or even

Wow, that’s a lot of groceries – here, give me a bag, let me facilitate you.

I sincerely hope that you noticed what was wrong with those sentences. (And if not, you most definitely need my help.)

But wait, why can’t I say “leverage”?

You can, if you really want. I’m not here to jargonshame you. (That’s a word I just coined. I’m expecting it to catch on real soon.)

The thing is, you can do so much better. I know you can.

Like I said above, these words don’t say anything. They have no emotion behind them. They don’t convey anything interesting, and they certainly don’t make the person who’s listening or reading them interested.

Not only that, but because they’re so foreign to everyday speech (see above), they destroy that conversational tone you should be striving for in your customer-facing communications.

It’s better to use a word that means the same thing but is either way plainer or way more charged.

But… but… Nevermind; show me the list

Yay! I knew you’d come around to my way of thinking eventually. The words are leverage, implement, enhance, facilitate, empower, enable, impact, provide solutions and synergy. (Doesn’t just reading that sentence make your eyes glaze over? Yuggh.)

Team of engineers learning blueprint at meeting

Should we use “facilitate” or “implement”? What the heck, let’s use both!

Here goes:

Leverage

Use “use.” Yes, I know it’s not an especially dynamic word, but most of the time, it works perfectly, and it doesn’t draw attention to itself (unlike “leverage”).

If you truly can’t stand the idea of using “use,” then try

“Take advantage of”

“Exploit”

“Benefit from”

“Capitalize on”

The word is actually supposed to mean using something to its full advantage, but I rarely see it used that way in business settings. (The word has its own particular meanings in finance and engineering/mechanics, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.)

Implement

“Try”

“Try out”

“Carry out”

“Start using”

“Put into practice”

“Put to use”

Enhance

This word usually seems to mean “improve in some vague way” (or possibly “zoom in”). Can you pick a word that’s more specific about how it’s improved?

“Strengthen”

“Elevate”

“Add to”

“Embellish”

“Beautify”

“Increase”

“Develop”

“Adorn”

“Raise”

Facilitate

Basically, make something easier. But if you can’t say that, say:

“Help”

“Help along”

“Assist”

“Aid”

“Simplify”

“Ease (they way)”

Empower

This word has value in some contexts, but it doesn’t belong in business speak. Frankly, it’s a little condescending. Why do you have to “empower” your customers? Do they not have the confidence or permission to do something without your wisdom, guidance and patronage?

I bet you could remove all uses of this word from your marketing copy and it wouldn’t make any difference. Try it and see. (And report back with stats!)

Enable

When you hear this word used in conversation in daily life, it’s usually not for a good reason. Use any one of these perfectly fine words instead:

“Allow”

“Permit”

“Help”

“Help along”

“Assist”

“Support”

Impact

Fine as a noun. A little bland as a verb. Because all it means is to cause a change to something. Can’t you use a word that indicates what kind of change occurred? A word with a little personality?

“Grow”

“Reduce”

“Demolish”

“Explode”

“Decimate”

“Multiply”

Provide Solutions

Yes, technically two words. But it still belongs on this list. Because your company “provides solutions”…? Well… I mean… of course it does. What else would your company provide, a total pain in the neck for your customer to deal with? It should go without saying that you provide solutions!

If you must mention this idea at all, then at least be specific about it. Here is an opportunity to “show, don’t tell.”

Synergy

“Synergy” feels so 1990s to me. I don’t mean that in a good way. Instead, try:

“Collaboration”

“Teamwork”

“Cooperation”

“Partnership”

“Alliance”

Use adjectives to get the precise meaning you want.

(The only noun on the list, did you notice?)

Why? Because clarity matters

Go ahead and use any and all of these words if you want. But before you do, ask yourself what you’re really trying to say. If you had to explain the concept to your 8-year-old niece, how would you explain it? What words would you use? Those are the words to use. It really can be that simple sometimes.

One Comment

  1. I leveraged this concept into an email and facilitated its dissemination to clients yesterday. It impacted them so much by enhancing their communication that it enabled me to brand myself as their solutions provider.

    What great synergy! Excellent work,as always Erin. Everyone should implement your idea.

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