You may be able to speak a foreign language and not know it. Let’s put that to the test. Read the following sentence and select the choice that best translates it:

The ask of every HR person is to navigate headwinds while onboarding the C-suite, admins, IT, etc. and making that scalable through tactical upskilling, org charts, and the company’s whole kit and caboodle of intel.

  1. Human resource workers are responsible for the hiring, administration, and training of a company’s employees.
  2. This is a sentence filled with business speak.
  3. This is a sentence filled with bull shit.
  4. All the above.

I’m the author of a dictionary completely devoted to today’s business jargon. During my keynote address at this year’s HR Inside Summit, I’ll address how business speak (or BS, as I call it) is a language that works for and against us on the job.

The benefits of using BS include efficiency and accuracy. To people of the same background, age or occupation, business speak is a helpful shorthand. For example, to use a term like EBITDA in a meeting of experienced Wall Street investors makes total sense. However, using that same term with your cyber security department may result in blank stares.

The challenges of BS are many because the language isn’t always used to communicate clearly with others. Sometimes BS words and phrases become so commonplace on the job that the people who speak them forget that not everyone is fluent. Economist, Robin Hogarth, coined the term “the curse of knowledge” to explain this phenomenon. Simply put, you may be so well-versed in something that you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be brand new to it.

Other times, people use BS catchphrases like ‘paradigm shift’, ‘low hanging fruit’, and ‘thinking outside the box’ because they think it makes them sound smart. Even worse, there are those who use this language to exclude others from the conversation and demonstrate their status.

This kind of communication can foster what a UK site for workplace news,, describes as “a work environment that is devoid of any clarity, credibility or transparency. As a result, employees may feel irritated and left out, leaving them demoralised, contributing to high employee turnover, and draining productivity.”

For these reasons I look forward to sharing with you “How to Take the BS Out of Your Business Speak” in my keynote address. My presentation will make you re-think the way we talk on the job and what you can do as a HR professional to foster better communication with business speak. I’ll see you there!

Lern more about this topic in the Keynote „How to Take the BS Out of Business Speak“ and Session „Improv(e) Workplace Relationships & Brainstorming“ from Bob on the HR Inside Summit 2023 at HOFBURG Vienna.

About the autor

Bob Wiltfong

Former Correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”|Author|Presentation Skills Consultant|Public Relations Account Director @ Axia PR

Bob is the Amazon best-selling author of “The BS Dictionary: Uncovering the Origins and True Meanings of Business Speak.” He’s a former Emmy award winning local TV news reporter and anchor in the United States and an accomplished improv comedian. Bob will share key improv principles while conducting an education session at the 2023 HR Inside Summit titled “Improv(e) Workplace Relationships & Brainstorming Sessions.” Bob has worked for 20+ years as a presentation skills consultant for several Fortune 500 companies including Bain & Company, Boeing, Charles Schwab, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Sony Pictures Studios, and T-Mobile. He currently works as a Public Relations Account Director for Axia Public Relations in the US.