Communities, groups, and corporations all have their own jargon, terms, catch-phrases and other language variants. This is fine. But sometimes this lingual flexibility goes too far. Today, I give you 5 terms whose use should be brought to an end in conference rooms and board rooms across the country.

5.) Action item (n.) – Something you have to do because your boss told you to do it.

Boss: I’ve given Fred an action item to shine my shoes and make 83 photocopies of my daughter’s country club membership card.

Fred: Hmm, I’ll have to delay my usual sycophant chores today so I can complete these important Action Items.

“Action item” sounds like something you need for a quest in a nerdy role-playing game. It’s not even sexy sounding. You have a damn job or task or chore to do. Calling it an “action item” doesn’t make it (or you) more important.

*See also: Action Item…Professional Superhero

4.) Bleeding edge (n.) or Bleeding-edge (adj.) – 1. (n.) The forefront, at a point ahead of the competition; 2. (adj.) Used to describe an advanced technology or unique product.

A few years ago, the place to be was the cutting edge, or companies wanted to design and sell cutting-edge products. Now companies aren’t satisfied with simply cutting; now they want to bleed. This metaphor makes no sense. Edges don’t bleed unless they’ve been over-saturated with some liquid—like ink or blood. If you’re on the bleeding edge, it sounds like your Research & Development team is over-spending its budget and/or working outside the scope of its project plan.

3.) Guesstimate (n.) or (v.) – 1. (n.) A guess or an estimate. They’re the same damn thing; 2. (v.) The act of making a guess or an estimate.

If you consult a thesaurus, you’ll find that the words “guess” and “estimate” are, in fact, synonyms. There is no good reason to conflate these words into one. You’re not showing that you’re simultaneously using two techniques to reach your conjecture. You’re just proving that you’re a slave to office slang and made-up words. It’s cutesy and should not be used by any self-respecting adult (with the possible exception of 1st grade teachers).

2.) Impact on (v.) or Impactful (adj.) – 1. (v.) Used as a synonym for “affect”; e.g., How will Ted’s untimely death impact on the project team? 2. (adj.) To indicate something that has had a profound effect on something else; e.g., Ted’s untimely death was an impactful moment for our team.

Unless Ted died by falling from a great height onto his project team, it’s safe to say his death had no “impact on” them at all. Furthermore, his death was not “impactful” because “impactful” is not a word. Period. End of discussion. No matter how effective a particular speech, earnings report, or sermon may have been—maybe it was moving, powerful, awesome, or brilliant—it was never “impactful.”

1.) Utilize (v.) – To use.

Yeah, ok, so it’s a word. And if you want to be a pretentious jerk, utilize it to your heart’s content as you wax philosophical about your company’s bleeding-edge product that is, like, sooo impactful that you can’t even begin to guesstimate how many action items it will complete for you. “Use” is perfectly fine; and if you find “use” too pedestrian and lacking in gravitas, chances are that most people don’t listen to you anyway.

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