How to Sound Like One of the Team – More Workplace Jargon Part II

Ours is the age of substitutes: instead of language, we have jargon – Eric Bentley, British-born American critic, playwright, singer, editor and translator.

Let’s face it. Jargon can be useful. That’s why it was created. You probably already figured out that it is important to know the business jargon at your workplace to be successful. As important as it may be to know what English words and phrases mean, it’s also valuable to know when and how to use them. There is a delicate balance of when to use business jargon or any jargon for that matter. As you have discovered, there are lots of business idioms that are used in the business world every day.

If you feel your audience may not understand your message, it is better to substitute different vocabulary. Don’t assume that everyone you communicate with has knowledge of your industry’s particular jargon. It’s also vital that you use the jargon correctly. If you are unsure, consult a dictionary to help assure you of the proper words and meanings, or bookmark an online business resource.

Being accurate and sensitive in your communication will help you to maintain positive relationships, key to your professional success. So how can you sound like one of the team? Check out this list of workplace jargon.

You might be already using some of these phrases.

You might know what many of them mean.

And you just might find a few to start using in your workplace.

You know to sound like one of the team.  


Baked In – Included

Those options are already baked in with the model. So that is the price you pay, plus tax.Build Capacity – Planned development of (or increase in) knowledge, output rate, management, skills and other capabilities of an organization through acquisition, incentives, technology and/or training

The President of the company outlined ways to build capacity by offering various training options for all employees to take advantage of.


Champion – Someone who takes great interest in the adoption, implementation, and success of a policy, program, project or product

Mr. Humphrey was a true champion; he pushed for the new product like a champion. Now, it is one of the best-sellers on the market.

Circle Back - Revisiting an issue after it has been addressed

I’ve got a meeting now, but we’ll circle back later to discuss that new strategy of yours. How about 4:00 p.m.?”

Circle the Wagons – Bring your people or team together, and agree on the story or the approach to defend an impending attack from the outside

The plan was to circle the wagons and come up with a plan to compete better with the current market.

Collaborative – Describing work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something

The collaborative efforts of the IT department helped streamline the project. We finished in less than a month!

Connect the dots – to understand the relationship between different ideas or experiences

If you connect the dots between what the consumer wants and what management envisioned, you will see that we’re not that far off.

Cover all directions of the compass: - Try to make things acceptable for all stakeholders

In the stock holders’ annual meeting, the chairman covered all directions of the compass and spoke of stock benefits to everyone.

Create the storyboard - Outline what the solution will look like

The brainstorming session included creating the storyboard for the current distribution backlog.


Deep dive - Get into the detail (of)

It was important to deep dive the entire operation to see how we could cut costs to make a larger annual profit.

Dialogue - To have a conversation

The dialogue will continue tomorrow regarding hiring new personnel.

Differentiate - To make people and things different

We need to differentiate the product line to increase interest and sales.

Drill Down - To look into thoroughly

The bulk of the meeting was spent drilling down the reasons our sales have slumped.

Drink the Kool-Aid – To accept company policy without question

It’s important for company loyalty that the new employees drink the Kool-Aid.


Escalate - To become more important or serious, or to make something do this; to rise or to make something rise like price, cost or demand

The customer was dissatisfied with the product, so he escalated his demand for a full refund.

Emerge/Emerging – To have power or influence

The new company chairman is responsible for ensuring that the company emerges as a leader in manufacturing.

Enhance - To improve the quality, amount, or value of something

The job fair is an opportunity to enhance your networking skills. Who knows?  You might be offered a job!

Evolve – To develop gradually

Over the past year, the new restaurant in town has evolved into one of the most successful restaurants in the city.

Execute - To be successful with your business plans

The company knows the market and has the visibility and funds to execute.

Exploit – To use or develop something for profit or progress in business

It is important to exploit opportunities for marketing as fully as possible to ensure company success.


Facilitate - To help people deal with a process or reach an agreement or solution without getting directly involved in the process, discussion, etc.

A negotiator was brought in to facilitate the discussion about the company buyout.

Forge - To make an effort to develop a successful relationship with a person or organization

The company is forging a partnership with several companies overseas.


Generate - To produce or bring into being; to create

The accountant generated the monthly reports.

Grow – To build; to expand

The Board of Directors listened to the pitch of how the company was expected to grow over the next decade.


Have the vendor in our pocket – To have control over the vendor

Although there was a need for their services from many other area companies, the vendor delivered our products first. We seem to have the vendor in our pocket as we have done business with them for many years.

Highlight – An especially significant or interesting detail or event; to emphasize

We will highlight last year’s successes of our company based in the Middle East at the next Board Meeting.


Implement -   A means of achieving an end; to carry out

The production supervisor implemented the new safety procedures.

Incentivize - To offer incentives or an incentive to; to motivate

It is important to incentivize companies to relocate overseas.

Ideate - To imagine or conceive

It is difficult to ideate what the consumers of tomorrow will want to buy.

Impact - The effect or impression of one thing on another; the power of making a strong, immediate impression

The impact of computers and new technology on international marketing is immeasurable.

Inspire - To stimulate to action; motivate

The sales department was inspired by the prospect of getting a huge bonus.

Integrate - To make part of a larger unit

The two departments needed to integrate their findings into one document.

Intervene – To take a decisive or intrusive role in order to modify of determine events or outcomes

The new marketing director was brought in to intervene in the decisions between the client and the marketing staff.


Leverage – The enhanced power available to a large company

The supermarket chains seem to have greater leverage than the single stores of any size.


Manage - To direct or control the use of; to handle

My job is to manage the ad agency.

Mature – No longer subject to great expansion or development as in an industry, market or product

The company matured to our expectation; now we need to continue producing our quality products.

Moving forward – To advance with something; to make progress with something

It was necessary to move forward with the project.


Onboard – Employed by someone; working with someone

Our company has several financial specialists onboard to help determine the cost of the project.


Partner – A legal form of business operation between two or more individuals who share management and profits

My brother made a great business partner. It was something we always talked about doing.

Power to the elbow - Get additional backup information to make your case stronger

I heard that customer feedback was valuable when asking for a raise. So I gave power to the elbow and sent copies of some feedback I was given to my employer before the annual review.


Re-engineer – To change and improve the design of a product or system; to change and improve the way a company works or a job is done

The manager re-engineered the organizational structure of our department; now I report directly to him.

Re-use - To use something again

Our company policy was to re-use as much waste water as possible in making the paper products.

Reach (out) - The number of people that a company is able to advertise or sell a product or service to

The company merger will extend its reach into larger markets and reach out to several new global markets.


Scale up - To increase the size, amount, or importance of something

That restaurant is scaling up its catering operations to include neighboring cities.

Simplify - To make something less complicated by sharing the bare essentials

We simplified the website to include a few bullet points for the customer to read about the nutritional ingredients in our natural food products.

Spearhead - To lead a course of action

The most experienced executive was spearheading the search to find a new company president.

Strategic plan - The process of defining a strategy or direction and to make decisions on allocating resources to pursue this strategy

The company’s strategic plan for 2014 was revealed at the business meeting.

Sugarcoating – Not telling like it is

Oftentimes, the ads for those diet products sugarcoat the results.

Synergize – Cooperative interaction among groups that creates a stronger effect

The company retreat’s goal was to synergize its staff so the working relationships could be maximized.


Table that – To postpone dealing with a problem or issue

It was necessary to table that discussion on employee morale as the personnel manager was late for the meeting.

Throw a curve - To take by surprise, often in a negative way; to mislead or deceive

Despite being thrown a curve (i.e. the electricity was off for over 24 hours at the plant), we were still able to deliver the goods ahead of schedule.

Transform – To changeI

t was necessary to transform the complete operation to compete with the low costs of other countries.

Tread Lightly - To speak or behave carefully to avoid upsetting or causing harm to anyone

We will need to tread lightly when we approach the new supervisor with the plan as he usually wants things done his way.


Unify - To make into or become a unit; to consolidate.

The supervisor was able to unify the teams into one strong working unit.

Utilize – To use for a particular purpose, often practical

The green energy company utilized the rainwater for their roof garden.


Vet – to investigate someone thoroughly to see if they should be approved or accepted for a job; to check something carefully to see if it is acceptable

He vetted the plan so we can start right away.


I’m curious to know of any workplace jargon you use. What’s your favorite?

Do you have any tips on how best to learn “business jargon”? Maybe you have taken a class on business English or an ESL course at a local college. Some of you might have tried an online English course, or even studying by yourself with one or more of the many available online ESL resources. Perhaps you have a 1-1 tutor or you belong to some type of English discussion group. Maybe you are fortunate to have an English-speaking friend. I’m sure there are some other ways that you have acquired your English, and specifically business jargon. What are your ways to ESL perfection?

I’m curious to know how you are learning English and what topics you might want to have written on for this blog.

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