by Jennifer Sey
I think the thing I dislike most about working in the corporate world is the lingo. Surprising right? It isn't the long hours, the politics, the lay offs, the existential pushing rock up hill over and over again to no avail...Nope. It's the lingo. As kind of a word snob, words like “impactful” and “incent” and phrases like “double click” and “ping me” really get my goat. For those of you who don't have to work amidst this nonsense, some quick definitions:
1. Impactful (an oldie and not so goodie): a nonexistent word coined by marketers to convey, yes, you guessed it, the “impact” of an ad campaign. Common usage: Wow, this ad is really impactful! (meaning: consumers will not fail to notice it and go buy whatever product is being featured). For my money, I'd just assume add the extra word and say: Wow, this ad has great impact!
Part of the reason people use it is because the negative expression of it – We need something that is more impactful - is a nicer, albeit more passive aggressive way of saying – This sucks. No one will notice it and it won't make them want to buy whatever we're hocking. Do it again.
The other reason, of course, is that it makes us feel like a special club with our own language. Lends credibility to our profession if we speak in a language that is ours and ours alone. Or so goes the subconscious reasoning.
2. Incent: Motivate. Encourage. Sometimes we even make it longer and say “incentivize”. Horrid. I'll stick with “incline” or “provoke”, thank you very much.
3. Double Click: Taken from our computer culture, it means “go deeper on a subject”. As in: We'll double click on how to incent purchase in a moment... Gruesome.
4. Ping me: Also taken from computer culture. What it really is is a network tool used to test whether a host is reachable. It was named after pulses of sound made by sonar to contact submarines. How we use it today: Poke me. Remind me. Tell me you're there. As in: Ping me next week when you've finished your presentation and we'll sit down and review it. Can't wait. I'm sure it will be really impactful!
I do realize that I am not the first person to complain about the use of inanities such as those mentioned above. But I bring them up only to point out that I've recently noticed a new trend in corporate linguistic foolishness, best illustrated by use of the words “dialogue” and “journey.” Here, some illustrative uses: