Credit: iStock/Unfinished Business

Annoying business buzzwords to avoid at all costs

Business folks are guilty of inventing their own weird jargon, but these terms are worth at least understanding even if you’ll never put them to use. But within these buzzwords there’s a whole subset of business terms that are either meaningless or dress up unsavoury truths like lipstick on a pig. In short, avoid these terms if you can.


Not a verb, but used as such. If someone is telling you to action something, however, they usually just mean "do it."

Circle the wagons

Defend your idea as a team against critics. Possibly while shouting Yippi Ki Yay.


Not make our own stuff, but display other people's stuff, ideally in a format we can monetize.

Finding efficiencies

A fancy way of saying people are going to be laid off. And the remaining few will have to absorb their tasks.

Growth area

"We might/maybe suck at this part."

Herding cats

An impossible task or waste of time.


It's often a way of describing what went wrong. "Valuable learnings" can be things that went very wrong.

Let's circle back

I am not sure I either a) like this idea or b) have the authority to make a decision about it but I need to buy some time before deciding.

Open the kimono

A wildly creepy-sounding way to say "reveal information." Avoid this term.

Pain point



Haven't made money yet. In worst case scenario, company has not yet figured out how to make said revenue.


Sell it or turn it into a product that can be sold. "Chopin's Nocturnes make me feel wistful. How can we productize that sentiment?"


Fire people.



Realize Negative Gains

Two positive words make a sandwich out of the less-happy word. It's basically a cushioned way of saying "accept losses."


Thought we missed the always-annoying “synergize?” Fear not. The above is simply a sample of some jargon to steer clear of. Seasons of pitches have left the Dragons with countless other additions to this list. So if you’re thinking about taking your big idea to them, keep in mind that they’ve heard their fair share of business buzzwords by now, and can see right through them.

Whether these terms are like nails on a chalkboard or just plain nonsense, here are some phrases the Dragons would love to hear the end of.

The Dragons talk about what business jargon drives them nuts.

This article was originally published on April 2, 2015.