Communication-related words people hate

Are there certain communication-related words that frustrate you?

Stuart Rhys Thomas recently shared a post on LinkedIn asking what communication-related words people hate.

Within a week, he had over 360 comments. He’s written for the All Things IC blog to share three actions communicators can take to help prevent jargon in their organisations.

Stuart has worked in IC since 2005, following a 15-year career in Human Resources. During his HR career he worked for the likes of Mitsubishi, Northern Foods, and HomeServe where he was HR Director for four years. Since 2005, he has worked in internal communication for a variety of clients, both in the UK and internationally. Clients such as Aston University, Collins Aerospace, Kohler, Molson Coors, NHS, Revolution Bars Group and Sky. He says his approach to internal communication, in three words is: simple, creative and commercial.

Over to you Stuart….

Black and white photo of Stuart Rhys Thomas to promote his guest blog Communication-related words people hate

Communication-related words people hate

Well that took off!

A LinkedIn post about communication-related words people hate – and boy, did it touch a nerve! to date it’s had 23,000 impressions, 70+ reactions and over 350 comments…

This just goes to show how much jargon is spoken at work.

I think there’s a lesson in all of this.

About words (especially for us, as communicators).

Words are to communication what salt is to cooking. They add flavour… But add too much, and everything is spoilt!

Judging by the reaction to the post, communication at work is leaving a bad taste in our collective mouths thanks to buzzwords, jargon and consultancy mumbo-jumbo.

So, what’re we going to do about it?

Here are three actions communicators can take.

1. Tell people

Let the offending users know their words are confusing folk!

It means being brave, as very often serial offenders are members of the senior leadership team or the Board.

So, use a stalking horse.

Do a post-event survey and weave in a question or two about language. Ask about specific words or phrases, i.e. those words or phrases you’d love to see banned! Then, it’s not your feedback. You’re simply the messenger, providing clear directions to Claritytown.

2. Provide a glossary

How often have you seen a company communiqué full of words, phrases and acronyms people don’t understand?

If you can’t stop the words being used, educate people.

Include a glossary of terms. Which explains anything not immediately obvious to the reader (or you!)

If an audience doesn’t understand, it’s unlikely to engage with the message or to respond in the way you hoped. Meaning you’ve wasted your time, and theirs.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog: IC glossary.

3. Have language guidelines

Marketing has Brand Guidelines. Which includes advice on a company’s tone of voice. Why shouldn’t IC create a set of guidelines on language?

Including words that shouldn’t be used.

Because they’re jargon.

In short, they’re words that annoy, confuse, and irritate. Not the emotional response any communicator hopes to illicit in their audience…

Which leads nicely on to the buzzwords, jargon and consultancy mumbo jumbo people say they hate. Can you spot your “favourite?”

Cascade, All-hands, Town Hall, Employee voice, Reach, How, Land, Socialize, Sticky, Lean in, Synergy, Cadence, Bandwidth, Circle back, Blue-sky, Leverage, Moving forward, Utilize, Make this pretty, Amplify, Flywheel, Deep-dive, Boil the ocean, Skin in the game, Heavy lift, Piece, Lens, Activate, Touch base, Off-line, Unpack, Reach out, Resonate, Paradigm, Drill down.

Thank you Stuart for sharing your reflections with us.

You can connect with Stuart on LinkedIn or email

Post author: Stuart Rhys Thomas
First published on the All Things IC blog 22 February 2024

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