Thank you John Jantsch for the buzzword killing contest, The Business Buzzwords My Readers Want Killed Most:
It all started innocently enough, like these things mostly do. I went on a bit of a rant about the use of the word “synergy” and the next thing I knew, readers were blowing off pent up steam about all kinds of overused business idioms and cliches.
There were frequent submissions for “out of box”, strategic, and best practices, but through a completely unscientific process my staff chose the 3 following entries as winners – Socialize, Action Item and Guru
ErinE – You need to “socialize” that idea. Go “socialize” it before we make a decision. Have you heard this one? Just awful. It essentially means “We all operate by groupthink here. We don’t make any decisions about things. We just like to talk about them.
Jeff_Foster – “action item“… what the hell isn’t one? at the end of a meeting has anyone made a list of INACTION items?? Sign me up for those!
GregDigneo – I hate the word Guru – Especially when it is a “self-proclaimed” title. The most atrocious of the use is in the signature of an email: Sincerely, John Smith, Social Media Guru
Can you see Albert Einstein signing a letter as “The Physics Guru”?
Bonus: Sorry Jeremy, you didn’t win anything, but this my personal favorite
Jeremy Powers “Ninja” – You are not a Ninja. You are not a Facebook Ninja, LinkedIn Ninja, Social Media Ninja, Blogging Ninja, Web Ninja, or Internet Marketing Ninja. Did you study for decades, climbing your way through level after level of proven mastery?
You are NOT a ninja. (Takes a deep breath, sticks head in freezer)
While I have never described myself as a guru or a ninja, I must admit that strategy sneaks into my vocabulary and writing from time to time. So, let's consider some alternatives.
Instead of synergy, consider:
collaboration, cooperation, alliance, coaction, combined effort, harmony, symbiosis, synergism, team effort, teaming, teamwork, union, unity, working together.
Instead of socialize, consider:
be friendly at gatherings, associate, chum with, club, consort, entertain, fraternize, get about, get around, get together, go out, hang around with, hang out, hobnob, join, keep company, league, make advances, make the rounds, mingle, mix, pal around, run with, tie up with.
Instead of guru, consider:
mentor, guide, authority, guiding light, leader, master, sage, teacher, tutor.
And even better than substituting synonyms, change the way that you write so that these terms are less likely to turn up. For example, if you stop proclaiming your guru-hood and ninja-ness, you will be much less likely to use these terms.
While avoiding these words and changing the focus of your writing won't make you a ninja, it may actually give you some credibility.