I’ve never been a fan of business jargon–paradigm shift, take it to another level, gold standard. Almost all business jargon words take a simple word (in the above case: change, improve, and best) and make it more complicated and confusing. The only reason to do that is if the speaker doesn’t really want to be clear.
Business jargon will always be used, and I’ll always be looking for shorter, better words. I’m tired of “wheelhouse,” which means within your area of expertise or interest, as in, “I’m assigning you to the marketing team because the Acme Dynamite account put marketing in your wheelhouse.” Except it doesn’t really distinguish between expertise and interest, and that distance can be pretty hefty.
Instead of “wheelhouse,” let’s get back to what it means, and use either “expertise” or “skill.” Simple and no one thinks you are the ancient mariner or Captain Ahab.
But there are two phrases that have come into casual language–the language we use with our friends. In today’s world, that means at work, too, because our friends are now those we compete with and see every day at work.
“Bitch slap” is an open-handed slap to someone (admittedly, male or female) who is whining. It also means that the person who gets slapped can’t take a “real, manly punch.” The whole thing is abhorrent. Because it also implies that if your woman is a bitch, she needs to be slapped. This happens a lot in movies, and it’s not just recent. It shows that men are always in charge, need to control their women, and if the women steps out of line, well, then, she deserves a little slapping around. It’s not funny, and it teaches a whole boatload of bad ideas.
“Resting Bitch Face” (also called Bitchy Resting Face) is another term that was started to explain the look of aging women–the mouth that isn’t in a perpetual smile, but one with corners that turn down. Everyone who is over 40 knows that sooner or later, gravity wins. If you also have the two lines between your eyebrows, it gets worse. There was even a pretend PSA (Public Service Announcement) that set the phones of plastic surgeons ringing.
The idea is that women always need to look nice, pleasant, smiling, sexy. I don’t know a single person, male or female, who can maintain that. But I’ve not heard of the male equivalent.
This isn’t about political correctness, this is about two terms that de-value women based on the fact that they are women. Our culture runs on language, and when we use language that demeans a segment of our culture, it changes opinions of how those people should be treated. Not every woman is beautiful, and most women who are lucky to live long lives have that life written on their faces. it doesn’t make them bitches. The thing that bothers me the most is that the terms (when I hear them) are most often used by women.
––Quinn McDonald is fierce, but she’s no bitch.
20 thoughts on “Words Worth Dumping”
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I’ve not heard ‘wheelhouse’ used that way and it would irritate the hell out of me if I did. I can barely listen to the political or business news without cringing . . . I’m waiting for ‘grow the company/business’ to die the death it deserves. What is wrong with developing?
There is a bitch at my house and her name is Rosie and she’s a very timid and sweet natured little sheltie. I, on the other hand, am never a bitch . . . I don’t have the hair, ears, paws or the right number of nipples.
“The right number of nipples”–snort! I never understood why “incentivize” came about. We already have a simpler, more direct and easier to say word for that: motivate.
The only person who can be in a wheelhouse is a ship captain or navigator; I guess we should call ourselves lucky that they didn’t decide to say something is in our cockpit! (oh the mental horrors)
As for anything ‘bitch,’ my reaction is that it belongs properly only to female dogs, and people who tell me how my face should be will be told to mind their own beeswax or else I might be tempted to forget my manners and critique their appearance, too!
The boat metaphor is always popular in business. We have “the ship of state” and a large number of financial companies have ships in their logos. But the whole “wheelhouse” thing makes me roll my eyes. But then again, so did “actionable” which really means “I can sue you if you do that” and now means, “take action.”
IMPACT – when did IMPACT become a verb? Impact has had such an effect on the language and I never fail to affect me when I hear it misused. Yet it is now the norm in place of both effect and affect.
I had never heard of “Resting B@#$% Face” although I have certainly seen examples of it on both men and women. It always makes me wonder if the person has had a particularly hard life, if they spent more time angry or sad than content or happy. Then I thought of grandma saying, “If you keep that look on, your face will freeze that way!” That thought always me smile.
Impact has been a verb for a while. In 1985, using impact as a verb would get you jumped on by anyone with half a brain in his or her head. In 1990, NPR listed it as a pet peeve among most English speakers. In 2001, there were very few objections. Just us geezers (not you, of course). Now? No one remembers. What grinds my groats about RBF is that most older people’s faces lost the battle to gravity. Those of us with expressive faces, who laughed a lot, when we are at rest, look angry. I do. I’m not angry, but each year I have to smile harder to look happy. So when I am sitting, reading or sketching, and someone yells “smile!” at me, it’s really saying, “don’t get old!” and it bothers me. It’s as if you have to be smiling to be acceptable. And that means young.
One of the business words that I detest is Stakeholder. Always makes me think of Dracula and a wooden stake!
Same meaning, also creepy to me: having skin in the game. Eww.
Thank you for providing further color on trendy biz words.
Always happy to add color to my language. In an appropriate way, of course.
Well said thanks!
Amen Quinn. I hear and detest these words. Thanks for putting this out there.
The language is so beautiful. I’d like to keep it that way.
Wheelhouse? That is a new one for me! But I have been retired from corporate for a few years now. All of those crazy words used to really annoy me. And the way they go viral!
I thought “paradigm shift” would never, ever die. I still hear it occasionally. Yeah, “wheelhouse” and “onboarding” (starting a new job) are ones that won’t go away.
I knew a fellow who had two ten cent coins glued on a piece of wood that slid back and forth in a groove. He called it his “Pair-o’-Dimes-Shifter”
You have very excellent friends.