Let’s talk jargon

Understanding how to properly use office jargon can help you express yourself clearly, concisely, and professionally.

A picture off of a lonely highway in Hawaii. Photo credit: Sacha Tememe (me!)

You may be wondering what the picture above has to do with jargon, so let’s start by explaining that. I’m actually in Hawaii for a little vacation and that’s my favorite picture I’ve taken so far, so I just went with it. Please file any complaints in the comments section below.

Now onto jargon.

As I’ve explained in previous posts (here and here) on jargon, the goal is not for you to become a jargon spewing automaton. I’ve already made the case for how and why the proper use of jargon will help your career, so I won’t do so again here. (Also, I’m itching to get outside and continue working on my tan, so I’m keeping this post brief!)

So today, I’ll present you with a few more jargon terms and how to use them.


Wordsmithing means “making it sound pretty.” For example, you might be showing your boss a proposal of some sort that is still rough around the edges and not want him/her to focus on the fact that it’s still in draft form, so you could say: “I still need to wordsmith this, but this is the gist of what I’m proposing.” It sounds better than saying “I didn’t have the time to make this sound pretty.”

Not scalable

Something that doesn’t scale is something that works at a small scale but doesn’t at a large scale. For example, manually creating user accounts by clicking through Active Directory’s graphical user interface works at a small scale such as when your company adds one new user per month. However, as your company starts ramping up hiring, this process doesn’t scale. You’ll need to find a more scalable way to do it, such as using a script so you can create hundreds of user accounts with the click of a button.


Pivoting is what you do when something no longer works and you need to do things differently. For example, you and your boss might agree on a plan of action that sounds great until you try to implement it. When you have to change something on the fly, you pivot. In a sentence, you could use it like so: “I had to pivot.” It sounds better than saying: “Our plan was stupid and unworkable when faced with reality and I didn’t have enough time to call you and run this new plan by you.”

Aloha Oe

This is not jargon – I’m saying bye to you until next week in Hawaiian.

With each post, I cover a new topic to help you get your start (or keep progressing) in your IT career. If it’s your first time visiting this blog, start here. Or, see all my posts about interview questions you should definitely be prepared for.