Watch your language
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A field guide to business jargon and buzzwords

The corporate world often seems to have its own dialect that only the people who use it really understand. Or do they? Here we attempt to decode three popular business terms.


gas•light

[from Greek khaos + Latin lux: chaos + light]

“The president and the current administration are gaslighting us.” (The Guardian, March 16, 2017) 

To “gaslight,” from the 1938 play Gas Light and subsequent films in which a man tries to make his wife appear insane by distorting her perception of reality, joined the vernacular long before U.S. President Donald Trump began spouting “alternative facts” while accusing journalists of disseminating fake news. Gaslighting, a form of bullying, also happens in the workplace. “Who ya gonna believe,” asked Chico Marx in 1933’s Duck Soup, “me or your own eyes?” Gaslighters don’t care if you believe them. Their goal is to make you distrust yourself

 

idea•tion [from ideare: form an idea]

“While one ideation session is certainly not a panacea for the host of solutions that are needed, a few key concepts emerged.” (Forbes, May 26, 2016)

The word ideation was conceived in 1829 when philosopher James Mill declared in Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, “As we say Sensation, we might say also, Ideation; it would be a very useful word; and there is no objection to it, except the pedantic habit of decrying a new term.” It’s been useful in medicine to describe the capacity for forming ideas but not necessarily acting upon them, e.g., “suicidal ideation”(Merriam-Webster), but in business, according to Investopedia, ideation involves every process used to take an idea from its moment of conception to its real-world application.

 

pain•point [from Greek poine penalty + Latin punctum pricked]

“Let’s take a look at some of the most pervasive consumer pain points in the industry and why they need to be corrected…” (Huffington Post, April 2017)

A pain point is “something that annoys or causes a loss in productivity,” according to the Urban Dictionary. “The New Science of Team Chemistry” in the March-April 2017 Harvard Business Review explains: “Often, the biggest pain points are in one-on-one relationships when opposite [work] styles collide,” and a recent headline in Variety proclaims, “Pay TV’s Pain Point Gets Worse: Cord-Cutting Sped Up in 2016”. A pain point is a problem, but also an opportunity  to devise a solution–which is why businesses should find out what’s bothering their clients. 

 

gas•light

[from Greek khaos + Latin lux: chaos + light]

“The president and the current administration are gaslighting us.” (The Guardian, March 16, 2017) 

To “gaslight,” from the 1938 play Gas Light and subsequent films in which a man tries to make his wife appear insane by distorting her perception of reality, joined the vernacular long before U.S. President Donald Trump began spouting “alternative facts” while accusing journalists of disseminating fake news. Gaslighting, a form of bullying, also happens in the workplace. “Who ya gonna believe,” asked Chico Marx in 1933’s Duck Soup, “me or your own eyes?” Gaslighters don’t care if you believe them. Their goal is to make you distrust yourself