What are some of the most overused and meaningless business “buzzwords?”

Surveys show they’re words like “synergy,” “innovative” and “leverage.” But according to a new study, there’s a reason why these words are overused. Robert Leonard is a language expert from Hofstra University. And he says when people use the same language over and over, they’re trying to show they can “fit in” with the business world.

As an example, the professional Website LinkedIn recently made a list of the most overused words their members use in profiles. It includes words like “dynamic,” “organizational” and “effective.” Leonard says when you tell people that you’re a “dynamic worker” that’s not saying much because two different people may have two very different ideas of what “dynamic” means. BUT the fact that you use the word tells people that you understand how professionals talk. And that could give you an advantage if you’re applying for a new job. 

Why? Leonard says it’s because buzzwords come from a basic human need to be accepted. It’s the same reason high school girls will all use the same slang to describe cute boys. It’s about showing you belong to the same social group. In other words, we don’t use them because they’re the best way to get our message across. We say them to show we’re an “inside member”.

And according to this report, if that’s how everyone else is talking where you work, that’s also how you should talk if you want to fit in.