Tip #534: Words and Phrases that Really Bother Me!

“I have a fine sense of the ridiculous, but no sense of humor.” Edward Albee

There are certain words and phrases currently used by trainers and human resource professionals that push my crazy button. I’ve been trying to figure out why I have such an immediate negative visceral reaction when I hear:

  • leveraging
  • actioning
  • drill down used as an adjective
  • upskilling
  • pulse survey
  • micro-credentials
  • learning silos
  • a flash view
  • performance needle
  • granular content
  • rolling out
  • authoring

Part of it is the fact that, as an English major, I am uncomfortable when people use a noun (leverage, action, and author) as a verb. What the blazes is “actioning” anyway??? Can you use it in a sentence? Even my spell checker changed this to “auctioning” when I first wrote it.

One can guess what “upskilling” might mean, but what makes content “granular?” It can’t mean that it is gritty or grainy, can it?

I don’t particularly care for the phrase “drill down” when it is used as an action. I don’t use drilling tools and I don’t drill for oil. But I can’t fathom how something could be characterized as “drill down.”

A “flash view” sounds like a quick look. But what is a “performance needle?” Something to poke someone into action or an indicator on some rating scale?

And what is a “pulse survey?” Is it testing attitudes or checking to see if people have a pulse?

Why would anyone want “micro” credentials? How do you shrink credentials, anyway?

At least I know what a “learning silo” is- a holding bin for learning, right?

It’s really too bad that I didn’t copy the actual sentences from which I pulled these gems. Perhaps the context would have clarified the meaning. However, the words and phrases would still have been ridiculous.

What words or phrases get your goat?

May your learning be sweet.


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