Note to self: maintain vigilance on one’s vocabulary.
Words and phrases can slip in like a well-dressed gatecrasher and next thing you know you’re ‘socialising’ documents and ‘reaching out’ to people. Totes.
I readily admit it. I’ve dropped my guard many times. My husband took issue with me ‘populating’ a spreadsheet (how about ‘filling it in’. Fair point). As far as he’s concerned, the only ‘dashboard’ you need to know about is the one in your car.
There are standard terms or phrases that are particular to your professional tribe and there’s a time and a place to use them. For me, ‘stakeholder’, ‘key message’, ‘corporate responsibility’ and ‘materiality’ are classic cases. It’s kind of hard to get what I need to get done without them. I’d like to think I used them in the right places and with the right audience.
But it can be hard to resist adopting a new and exotic sounding word here or there, especially when you work with new people all the time, in different organisations, sectors, countries and organisational cultures.
Sometimes your old words can just sound so damn tired and old-hat that you need a bit of new blood.
Social media has brought with it a whole new vocabulary that very quickly sorts the users from the non-users. Try trotting out hashtag to someone who hasn’t a clue about Twitter and you’ll get some WTF? looks.
I suppose good practice would be to listen to what you’re hearing in the course of doing business and be aware of what you spit back out in your speech (or write in your documents).
If it doesn’t sound quite right to you, it probably doesn’t sound quite right to the people you’re communicating with. Awks.