Connect without Corporate Jargon

EPISODE 119 | Guest: Jennifer King, executive communication coach

Corporate jargon is something that’s used in every workplace, but does it serve the audience or the speaker? Jargon has its place and might be efficient, but it can often dilute, obfuscate and even offend. To communicate effectively, the needs of the listener have to be prioritized. Otherwise, things can go very wrong.

Thoughtful, intentional language is what’s needed to connect with today’s employees, visitors and customers. In every context, communicators need to remember that their target audience is people.

  • Understand why each interaction needs to be treated as unique
  • Explore specific jargon terms, and how they’re used and misused
  • Consider what unintentional messages certain language might be conveying
  • Hear how some terms can be dehumanizing
  • Learn which terms need to be discarded and which ones to keep

Subscribe to this podcast: Podbean | Spotify | Apple Podcasts | YouTube | RSS

See more about Jennifer’s coaching by clicking this link


Derek DeWitt: As the great poet T.S. Elliot once said, “I gotta use words when I talk to you.” The problem in the business world is that the words that we use often obfuscate the actual meaning that we’re trying to convey. Or they get across what we’re trying to say, and yet we don’t realize, when we use certain phrases and terms and coded language, that our audience may have different associations with the language that we’re using.

Of course, I’m talking about corporate jargon. Everybody knows it, everybody’s heard it, most of us use it, and almost everybody hates it. So, we’re gonna talk today about corporate jargon, what certain terms pretend to mean and what we all know they secretly really mean. And really talk about speaking perhaps in a more modern way and speaking in benefits instead of just throwing a bunch of terms that honestly have just become cliches. To help me in this endeavor, I am joined by Jennifer King. She is a global corporate coach, specializing in communications and performance, as well as an actor and theater director and a whole bunch of other things, besides. Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for joining me today.

Jennifer King: Hello, Derek. Very nice to be here.

Derek DeWitt: Thank you for coming on. And thank you everybody out there for listening to this episode of Digital Signage Done Right. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to the podcast, and if you wanna follow along, there is a transcript on the Visix website. Just go to and there it is.

So, Jennifer, it’s funny, doing a Google search for corporate jargon, you get a lot of articles that are quite negative about the term. Why is that? What do you think is going on with that? Because everybody uses it.

Jennifer King: Yes. And I will tell you, early on in my career in coaching, I was working with a firm that literally gave me a jargon vocabulary list in order to learn to communicate with the corporate world. And I think what we often miss is, well, what we want is to connect. So, we wanna learn a language that everybody has, so that we can feel a sense of belonging and that we’re somewhat special because we know the lingo.

But at the same time, what is happening is we’re really missing what is the purpose of why we are communicating? And that is to connect, to inspire, to do many things. But unless you’re really aware of that and just throwing out jargon in order to sort of get by, you’re really not having any meaningful impact.

Derek DeWitt: Jargon in many ways is a shortcut. Like I think of, I don’t know, in the mechanical world, the world of engineering, a world of science, more specialized things like theater, which, you know, like there are just certain phrases and terms that you use that are just, we all know what they mean. They’re dense with meaning. And so, it’s kind of a shortcut. So, on the surface, jargon is useful because it is efficient in many ways. And yet when it gets overused to the extent that it certainly has in the corporate world, I think, it almost gets stripped of its meaning. It becomes this bizarre, free-floating cliche.

Jennifer King: It gets stripped of its meaning, or we elevate meaning of some things that we really don’t want out there anymore. Some terms have been reborn and reused in the corporate world that can be offensive, can be violent, or in some cultures have no meaning at all. So, it all goes back to what are you trying to do? What are you really trying to do? And is your language serving you, or are you doing that thing where you’re just trying to get by?

You know, the term we always use is “bandwidth”. Do you have so little bandwidth that you’ve lost the art of communication? And so, a way to circumvent that is, you know, I know a lot of jargon, everybody gets it, and we can move really quickly, but in that moving very quickly, there is something lost.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. That’s kind of the idea behind like the slow food movement and the slow cities movement and all these other things that are just like, hey, you know, as Simon and Garfunkel said, “Slow down, you move too fast.”

Jennifer King: Exactly.

Derek DeWitt: Take it easy. Just, you know, yes, when you need to be fast, be fast. And you know, if your business model is move fast and break things go ahead and do that. But it doesn’t have to be 24/7. You know, take a moment, judge each interaction on its own merits instead of treating every interaction as the same interaction.

Jennifer King: And don’t get me wrong, as you mentioned, there are places where it absolutely makes sense, when you have a group that you’ve been working with, you know, a team you have where you’re speaking your common language. But that is one particular audience that you’re with. Have you identified your needs for the same audience? And is that language going to communicate what you’re hoping to convey to another audience which may have been fine with your own team?

Derek DeWitt: Mm-hmmm. And it’s also funny, there’s this other component to the use of jargon in various occupations, which is to sort of bind the group together, because we all know what it means, and also a little bit to keep out the outsiders. You know, I’m reminded a little bit of Cockney rhyming slang in East London, where it was opaque to outsiders; they just have no idea what you’re talking about.

Jennifer King: That’s absolutely correct. You know, quite the contrast, Derek is, a few years ago I directed a play called Dry Powder, which was all about private equity. And when I received the script, I didn’t know what anything meant because everything is finance jargon. It becomes its own language, its own Shakespearean text, so to speak. But literally, I could go to a finance person and say, could you please tell me what all this means? And they could rattle it off like no one’s business. But I put it in front of actors, and we literally had to spend four days around a table dissecting the script just to understand what the meaning was of all that jargon.

Derek DeWitt: Right. It’s funny, it’s become almost Elizabethan.

Jennifer King: Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. So just imagine that on, now this was very intentional on the writer’s part, she’s making comment on that particular world that many cannot reach. Well, put that in everyday context. How often are you doing that in your own world? And also, how are you using jargon that might be hurting others? You talked about, you know, the importance of creating belonging, but what are you doing to keep people out?

Derek DeWitt: Whether it’s intentional or, I think, oftentimes, unintentional.

Jennifer King: I often like to give people the benefit of the doubt and that’s what I really try to do, and it is unintentional. But that’s why it’s so important to examine the words you are using rather than just taking for granted that what you are saying is going to meet the needs of your listener, or is gonna create connection with your listener, or is going to create trust. And bottom line, that’s what you wanna do. But if you’re saying things like “tribe” or “open the kimono”, is that really serving you?

You know, one of the things that, in the Bay Area, I hear it very often is, “Ooh, they drank the Kool-Aid”. And we take that for granted, that that’s something we can use, of oh, we’ve adopted whatever they’re saying is just being the wisdom of us moving forward. And I remember being in a meeting, and someone said, “Oh, I drank the Kool-Aid.” And it got a very strong reaction from someone who had lived during the time in the Bay Area when Jim Jones and the People’s Temple had drank all the Kool-Aid, and hundreds had died. And so that was injuring that person. And dare I say, creating trauma in an already traumatized world.

Post-pandemic, it’s an interesting landscape. And even more so, I think we need to pay attention to how we communicate with one another, and the words and phrases we are choosing to use. Are they benefiting my listener? Are they actually communicating the message I intend? Those are the things to consider rather than just allowing the mouth to rattle off.

Derek DeWitt: Here’s a question. Do you think that jargon is used more by like managers and C-suite types, or it does it pervade all levels of many organizations?

Jennifer King: I would say that it’s individual-specific with who I’ve worked with. But I think that generally people try to adapt and fit in and relate. And so, if you’ve got a team that is, you know, primarily using jargon, chances are the others around them, including managers and leaders are going to do the same thing.

Derek DeWitt: Like I’m a writer and I also have done theater and other performance-oriented things. And, you know, in my world, finding a particularly unique way to phrase something is what is held in high esteem. And yet it seems in the worlds of jargon, it’s quite the opposite. It’s the standardized plug-and-play phrases that seems to be admirable.

Jennifer King: I think plug-and-play is apropos. But again, I think we’re all trying to re-modulate ourselves as we’re trying to figure out the way that we’re moving through the world. Because for a while, it was quick, quick, quick, quick, quick, quick, quick, and then the pandemic allowed this time of great space. And I think that, for many of us, we’re just trying to figure out how to (I say “us”; I think for many), we’re just trying to figure out how to fit in, how to be effective and how to control what we can.

And sometimes that means adopting other practices, it means adopting other language. But are you being, and this word I can say can become a little jargony, but “authentic”. Are you really speaking to who you are? Are you really reflecting your values, what you believe, what you stand for? And that’s where I think jargon gets in the way, because it just makes everything gray, and we don’t see the individual.

Derek DeWitt: Hmm. That’s for sure. It’s interesting, I came across an article on LinkedIn Pulse, written by Bob Lovely, an executive coach, and he said he thinks there are four motivations for people in business using jargon. And he says they’re all self-serving.

He says, first one is to fit in, to sound like you belong. The second one is to feel important, to impress themselves and to impress others. Third might be to express a deeper hidden meaning, using it as that sort of condensed shortcut. And then the fourth one he says is just self-preservation, which I thought was interesting. Like, I guess it’s, if I don’t use this terminology, and everybody else around me is then they’re gonna, you know, they’re gonna get me.

Jennifer King: And what I notice is that such the focus on oneself. And I think that’s what can be really missing in great leadership is how are you in service of the moment, how are you in service of your team, how are you in service of the company? And that needs to extend beyond you. What are their needs, and how are the words that you are using meeting their needs? And can you expand your meaning to elevate the conversation?

Derek DeWitt: All right. So I’ve collected, from a couple of great articles out there (and we’ll have links to them in the transcript on the Visix website for people who are interested), some of them with some truly great titles. One of them was called “All the Soul Sucking Corporate Phrases Everybody Loathes, Interpreted”, which is in Los Angeles Magazine.

So, I’m gonna throw some of this jargon at you and then we’ll just see what you have to say about it. One of the first ones I came across was the word “leverage”, which one article said is probably the most used corporate jargon term there is.

Jennifer King: Well, what it does is it takes humanity out of the equation, because it is a money term. And so, yeah, we wanna leverage, but what are we really talking about? We’re talking about human beings. It may not be the intent, but are you aware of what you are saying when you’re saying, and how that might impact the listener? You know, I’m gonna leverage you on this, or we’re gonna leverage, you know, this team over there to play to their strengths. Well, those team are people.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. I always think this about the term “human resources”. I’ve always objected to this term. It used to be called personnel, which at least has the word person in it. And then we switched it to human resources at some point in the past. And I was like, human resources? You know, next, why don’t we just call us, I don’t know, assets?

Jennifer King: Yes. And again, if you notice that it’s just, it’s dehumanizing.

Derek DeWitt: That’s why I wonder sometimes if it doesn’t come a lot of times from the top, down, because it almost seems to me like perhaps it is dehumanizing and distancing to sort of make the people this, you know, this whole group of individual people, if I’m a mid-level manager, I may have hundreds of people under me and under the people I manage, and I need them all to do the same things basically. And so, I find a way to kind of standardize them, so that I can get them to accomplish the goals that I set for them.

Jennifer King: Well, it comes down to efficiency. And it also comes down to, as you said, we’ve got all of these people. And if you’re trying to work in an efficient manner by not giving them a face, but allowing them to sort of be the mechanics of a machine, then perhaps you’re thinking, I can be as efficient as possible, which by then, okay, use the jargon. Do what is the quickest.

But if you really wanna build relationships and allow people to prosper, taking shortcuts, not putting your team first is going to lead you down to a path which may take longer to happen, but what will happen where you just aren’t going to see strong performance, because people will no longer be seen.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. This is true.

All right, here’s another term, “bandwidth”. So, for example, the boss says, “Hey, team, I need you to do this.” And you know, the leader of that team says, “We just don’t have the bandwidth”. What they’re saying is, well, we don’t really have the time or the staff, the personnel, to do this, but what they’re really saying is, we’re not gonna do any more work on that unless we’re compensated.

Jennifer King: Absolutely. And I enjoy the genesis of these words, or the culture of where these words come from. So, you think of leverage, I think of the finance industry. I look at bandwidth and I think of tech and how much we’ve adopted from those industries. And I think you’re exactly right, is bandwidth is a really great way of really not saying what you really mean. What are you really saying? Are you at an exhausted level where you can’t take on anymore? That’s something that really needs to be communicated. Or are you feeling as though you’re not being compensated enough? What is the conversation that really needs to happen, and why are you hiding that?

Derek DeWitt: All right, here’s another one. “We need to make this an action item,” which means we need to assign somebody this task. But isn’t there sort of another thing in there of, “and the person we assign this to is the person who we’re gonna throw under the bus if it all fails”?

Jennifer King: Well, action item can be a call to action. But as you said, it can also be weaponized. So again, the action items, we’re going to have this person take on this task. And I think it really depends on what is the intent behind that particular word. It can be something to motivate, but it also can be something to hurt, and what is really your intention underneath it? And I think that that will read if you have an awareness of what you are trying to do.

So again, there are ways that we are going to speak, certainly anyone could take our discussion to task and say, I heard a lot of jargon and coded messaging under all of that. But what is the intent underneath what you are saying?

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, that’s a very interesting thing, that the intent is coming once again to the forefront of even internal communications. You know, when we’re messaging through digital signage or emails or however else, Slack, Teams, however else we’re communicating with employees and even just, you know, verbally in the office or in meetings and so on and so forth, that once again, intent seems to be becoming more and more important.

And I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t a little bit to do with the Zoomers, the Gen Zers, who seem to have reprioritized things. They’re very much rejecting a lot of things that were commonplace, so commonplace in the 20th century that, you know, people of our generation just kind of went, oh, well, I guess, you know, I guess we either join in, or we just give up. Because that’s the system, there’s no way to change it. And they’re coming in and saying, actually, that’s ridiculous. Like you said, we’re people. Of course we can change it.

Jennifer King: Are you saying they’re disrupting, Derek?

Derek DeWitt: It’s so disruptive! This is gonna disrupt the industry. Which is a violent phrase, you know. Disrupt!

Jennifer King: Well and think of how many times we use violent language. We crushed it! There’s gonna be collateral damage. There’s, you know, the bleeding edge. You know, those are things that are incredibly violent. And do we really need that language in our vernacular?

Derek DeWitt: I’ve often thought that the business world uses a strangely large amount of militarized vocabulary.

Jennifer King: Well, we look at the title of the play I mentioned early on, Dry Powder. I mean, that’s, it has to do with guns.

Derek DeWitt: Oh, of course it does. It didn’t even occur to me. Oh, yeah.

Jennifer King: But it’s about capital. I mean, really what they’re, it’s a slang for capital. So, it is something we’ve always done is we weaponize our language, and we’ve done it for hundreds, thousands of, can I say thousands? Possibly. But I even, you know, because of my background, can look at Shakespeare, and part of the art of what he did was weaponizing language. It’s what we do in order to create power.

Derek DeWitt: Do you think, you know, reality TV shows have become really just a huge, huge, huge sector in the filmed entertainment world. I watch some; I think everybody in America watches at least one or two. And it’s funny because again, we see these cliche phrases again and again and again.

One of them, constantly, he “threw me under the bus”. And I’m like, first off, that is a horrible visual, and second off, is it really that serious? Like, did they throw you under the bus or are you just trying to express dissatisfaction with something? Because those are two very different things. The first one is accusing someone of purposely sabotaging your chances at something in order to gain favor or to knock you down. And I don’t know that that’s always used correctly.

Jennifer King: It’s interesting that you say that. Oftentimes, I’m wondering what is underneath, what is the hidden meaning of what they are saying? And if you think about the reality shows, it’s all about sort of building a brand or sort of being seen in a particular light. And what the jargon does is it allows there to be distancing. So, if you’re putting that out there, you know, “they threw me under the bus”, well, what does that really mean? And there’s no getting underneath that unless you really go deep. And I’m not sure if we’re really seeing that in reality television. So, of course, it could be the perfect place for this kind of jargon, because it allows there to be a distancing.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. Especially when, you know, you’re starving on an island with a bunch of strangers, you know. You’re like, I can’t think. I’ve had, you know, 200 calories a day for two weeks.

Jennifer King: And also, if you can’t think, and that’s what comes to mind, that is real for you.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. It feels that way. You know, I watch Survivor, and there’s a lot of language on there that is, I mean, really, I am terrified. I’m fighting, I’m literally fighting for my life. I’m like, but you’re not, you’re not literally fighting for your life. If you die, I’m pretty sure Survivor‘s days are numbered.

Jennifer King: Think about the world that they’re in, Derek. That this are their given circumstances. And you can’t help but wonder, don’t know this, if there’s some sort of scripting that they’re given to allow that language to create its own culture, which is Survivor. You know, and so, throw under the bus, I’m going to die, all of those things help to create the suspense that allows audiences to come back and watch.

Derek DeWitt: Hmm, for sure.

Jennifer King: Creating that drama through language.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s for sure. And it is very dramatic.

Another one that you often hear is, we gotta “trim the fat”, which of course comes from the world of butchery.

Jennifer King: Yes.

Derek DeWitt: Trim the fat, the fat that we don’t want off the meat. And then over time, this has, I think a lot of people don’t know this is where it actually comes from. And so, when you say, we need to trim the fat, meaning we’re gonna fire a bunch of people. So then it’s like, so what did you just call me? Did you just call me fat?

Jennifer King: And as you said that the way that we’re identifying language as dehumanizing, which I think this time has been remarkable in the fact of body positivity. And that movement is powerful. You use a term like that, you’re only promoting language that goes against body positivity, number one. And number two, it identifies people as something that are unhealthy, unneeded, gross, need to be cut off.

Derek DeWitt: And discarded. Fed to the cats.

Jennifer King: And that’s one of the things to note is how easy it can be to make really hard decisions if you can disconnect from human toll. All of these things are meant to distance ourselves from what we’re really doing. If you don’t have a human face, Derek, and I have to get rid of you, I’m not gonna feel that pain, because you don’t mean anything to me. You’re the fat. It needs to go.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Right, right. Yeah, that’s for sure. So, speaking of cats, and it’s actually a phrase that I personally quite like but I’ve overheard it so much now that I’m beginning to not like it, which is, boy, trying to get everybody to work together on this project has been like “herding cats”.

Jennifer King: It’s so reductive.

Derek DeWitt: Ha!

Jennifer King: And it’s easy. And it’s funny. So again, if you think about these terms, they do a couple of things. Number one, yes, they can dehumanize, but also, they can bring some levity to a stressful situation. But again, it goes back to what is your intention behind saying it. Is it to get a laugh? Is it to express frustration? But, bottom line, as a result, you might be demeaning other individuals in the process.

Derek DeWitt: Well, and you know, it kind of, also, something I read about that particular phrase also said it kind of hints at a lack of accountability and leadership. You’re putting all the blame on the workers, who are these cats, and you’re just the poor person who’s been tasked with herding them. But you’re their manager. You’re the leader. So, do a better job.

Jennifer King: Well, absolutely. And you think about how we were talking earlier about the sense of it being focused on oneself. So, if you’re able to put down the other, that’s only elevating who you are.

Derek DeWitt: So, now I’ve got two phrases. “Let’s circle back on this” and “let’s take this offline”. And both of them kind of mean, hey, look, I don’t wanna talk about this right now, or I can’t talk about this right now, but this article I read said both of these phrases are actually super passive aggressive. How so?

Jennifer King: Well, I think they can be passive aggressive. Let’s circle back on this right now can mean that you don’t wanna talk about it or that, you know, you’re not ready to talk about it. And sometimes you aren’t ready to discuss something. Sometimes you do need to take a pause and collect more data and/or things could be getting heated. And how do you circumvent that? Do you wanna call it out and say, hey, this seems like this isn’t a good time for us to talk about this right now, so let’s circle back later.

Again, I think it comes back to, are you using it for a specific purpose or are you just throwing it out there in order to manage a situation? But are you aware of what you’re managing?

Derek DeWitt: Hmm. That’s interesting.

Jennifer King: And are you communicating that?

Derek DeWitt: All right, I got a couple more for you. This initiative needs to be “mission critical”.

Jennifer King: Oh, there we go again. First of all, it is being blown out of proportion by such a standard, by allowing it to be mission critical, because suddenly we feel like we’re waiting for a rocket to take off.

Derek DeWitt: Hmm. Yeah. Right, exactly. Or I think it’s also used in like the military, as well.

Jennifer King: Absolutely. And this also speaks to the sense of allowing the stakes to become very high. And so, if the stakes are that high, they’re this element of stress or danger, and we need to protect ourselves. Which calls to question, do we wanna feel that defended in the workplace?

Derek DeWitt: Because a lot of this is so ahh-ahh-ahhh-ahhh, you know, sort of, energizing, if it isn’t this attempt to get this kind of like, this is important, but this is also important, but this is also very important, but this is important. And you really need to be, look, I mean, here’s the thing guys, the low grade coffee you’re supplying is just not gonna cut it if you expect me to come into this office and work at top speed, top performance, top energy levels for eight hours a day, five days a week. It’s just not gonna cut it. I’m gonna need better coffee, at the very least. Like, nobody can run like that. Sprinters only run for a short distance.

Jennifer King: The other thing to consider Derek, is how much are you using jargon? So, there can be times where you use “mission control” to make a point, but you’ve already set yourself up, and it’s just that tagline you’re using that everybody can hook onto. You know, I keep talking about intentionality. But again, sometimes jargon, if you’re specific and you know why you’re using it, can be helpful in conversations or in presentations.

And for instance, this is mission critical. If you haven’t used jargon the entire time and mission critical isn’t really in your vocabulary, then your team might sit up and listen for a moment. So again, it depends on how are you using language strategically to meet the needs of the moment.

Derek DeWitt: We sort of evolved to look for novelty because novelty is, ooh, what’s that? Is it something I can eat? Is it something that’s going to eat me? You know, this is where we are.

I came across, looking at a bunch of different lists of corporate jargon, I came across one I’d never heard before. Maybe you have. Here’s the saying, “Don’t boil the ocean on this, we don’t need to be too detailed.” Which seems to be saying you’re basically, you’re being pedantic and you’re wasting a lot of time. Boil the ocean. I’ve never heard this.

Jennifer King: Which is another term for jargon, which “let’s not get into the weeds”.

Derek DeWitt: Oh, yeah, there you go. Yeah.

Jennifer King: It’s just something that to replace what is really being meant, don’t get too much into the details. There’s other priorities that we wanna focus on.

However, sometimes we do need to have a visual. There are certain individuals which are visual learners, and they’re actually gonna grab on to “boil the ocean” or “into the weeds”, and that’s gonna make meaning for them. So, as much as jargon, we were talking about the pitfalls of jargon, again, what I’m leaning into a little bit is when it can be helpful.

Derek DeWitt: Well, I know we’ve talked in the past, so one of the things that you’re focusing on in communications coaching is this idea of try to speak in benefits.

Jennifer King: Yes!

Derek DeWitt: Instead of, you know, ’cause a lot of this jargon is, like you said, it’s military, it’s sports, it’s war, it’s sometimes a bit sexist. Like you said, “open the kimono”. Good lord! That’s a lot to unpack in that one, you know. It is this kind of like, because the business world for so long was such a boys’ club, you know, and this kind of a thing, it’s just, well, I’m just, I’m just talking. But there are these, sort of, this cultural baggage that comes along with a lot of this. And if you’re gonna use the jargon for its succinctness, to be more effective, don’t use it so often. And instead, as you like to say, recast things in this terms of speaking in benefits. How does one go about doing that?

Jennifer King: I think you have to know your audience first and foremost. Who are you speaking to, what is your intent, and at the end of the meeting, what do you want them to do? That is where you have to spend some time researching, preparing, in order to make, to create the strongest value for those moments for your audience. Whether it’s your team, whether it’s one person, whether it’s a thousand. If you can critically think about what the needs are of your audience and how language can be used to serve those needs, that’s when it becomes beneficial.

However, so often leaders become unaware of how or why they’re using language, and they fall into pitfalls of the jargon, which then becomes reductive and has no meaning. And it’s not just leaders, it’s across companies, it’s across industries.

Derek DeWitt: Ah, politicians. Good lord. I mean, you know, we see it constantly. You’re just like, huh, that was, that was fascinating.

One of my favorite lines in the movie All the President’s Men is, the White House says about some of the early Washington Post articles on Watergate is, Bradley says, “Well, that’s a non-denial denial. You know, they call us liars, we start circling the wagons.” And then I went, ooh, he said, “circling the wagons”. That phrase hasn’t aged well.

Jennifer King: The good news is we’re evolving. The thing that becomes challenging is that it requires more time to consider what you are going to say and why. However, if you take the time, you’re going to create empathy. You’re going to build stronger relationships. And, as I mentioned, you’re going to cultivate trust.

But if you don’t take that time, chances are you may alienate someone or an entire group because you are not aware of the language that you’re using, the power of that language and how it isn’t doing what you’re hoping it will achieve. And that is to create a sense of belonging. You’re actually creating a space where people feel disenfranchised, feel devalued, and, as a result, may not wanna stay.

And now more than ever, the need to retain people is critical. And that’s why communication becomes crucial. And your awareness of how you are using language. And are you taking the time to consider others and the impact you are making with your words?

Derek DeWitt: So, those are some thoughts on how we can maybe be a bit more thoughtful and a bit more, let me say, mindful in the language that we use, especially when we’re trying to achieve a particular goal by communicating with somebody.

I’d like to thank Jennifer King for talking to me today and giving, really, 110%, and helping us take it up to the next level when it comes to language.

Jennifer King: It was wonderful to unpack jargon with you today, Derek.

Derek DeWitt: I think we got a lot of good learnings out of this.

Jennifer King: You know, it was a slam dunk.

Derek DeWitt: Oh, that’s a good one! That’s a good one. If people are interested in getting more advice on how to navigate the 2020s and beyond, as the corporate culture continues to shift and change, how can they get in touch with you?

Jennifer King: Please visit me at

Derek DeWitt: Easy to remember, and of course there’ll be a link in the transcript as well. Again, thank you Jennifer, for talking to me, and thank you everybody out there for listening.