Mini Cart 0

Your cart is empty.

Do you speak gobbledygook?

Have you found that instead of calling, messaging or emailing someone, you're now 'reaching out' to them or 'touching base' with them? And instead of being in agreement, we're 'all on the same page'.

What has become of the English language?

Every industry has its own jargon. No matter the size of your business, you will use language that is specific to your industry and organisation.

Separate to that, we're now using language that can be confusing and unclear in our everyday work conversations across all industry areas. It has become commonplace to use phrases such as, 'take offline' and 'take it to the next level'.

A recent news article pointed out that jobseekers are becoming confused with the phrases and buzzwords used in job advertisements. Half of 2000 adults surveyed by graduate jobs specialist, Milkround, said they had not applied for a job because they did not understand the advertisement.

Forbes conducted a survey of the most confusing and annoying phrases used in business. They found that the winner was 'Drinking the Kool-Aid'. This was followed by 'Open the Kimono' and 'leverage'.confusion

If you asked yourself, what does 'Drinking the Kool-Aid' and 'Open the Kimono' mean, then you are not alone.

'Drinking the Kool-Aid' is an expression used to refer to a person who believes in a possibly doomed or dangerous idea because of perceived potential high rewards. The expression came about after a mass suicide in the US in the 1970s. Fast forward to the 21st century and you would hope that this phrase would not be used in relation to a project that you are working on.

As to 'Open the Kimono', it means to reveal what is being planned or to share important information freely.

Mind you, I had to rely on google to find out the meaning of these two phrases, as I hadn't heard of them before. I can understand why a person would be hesitant to apply for a role if they read such phrases in an advertisement.

Yet, other phrases such as 'lots of moving parts', have become commonplace in the work environment.

What happened to clarity in both writing and speaking? If teams are to be productive and provide a high level of service to the organisation's clients then practising clear and concise use of the English language is necessary, at all levels of the organisation (no matter the size of the business).

Check your knowledge

If you'd like to check your knowledge of gobbledygook phrases, here are a few more terms that were voted to be confusing and annoying by the Forbes' readership:

    • Core competency
    • Bleeding edge
    • Peel the onion
    • Boil the ocean
    • Move the needle
    • Tiger team
    • Blue-sky thinking
    • Thought shower
    • Growth hacking

Do you recognise any of these phrases and more importantly, know what they mean?


If you have now realised that you are speaking gobbledygook then in the name of real communication, I would like you to consider how you can lead by example and use simple language, which will not confuse others.

Are there phrases that you find annoying or confusing? Share them below.


Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. Her programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.
30 Business Communication Tips

Looking for tips to help you with your speaking, writing and interpersonal communication?

Then download my free ebook, 30 Business Communication Tips.

Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.


  1. Sue Diserens

    Hi Maria, Here's another one for you "onboarding" !!!
    (Luv ye werk )
    Sue Dis. 🙂

    • Maria Pantalone

      Thanks Sue for the additional gobbledygook word and for your feedback! 🙂


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *