Michigan’s Lake Superior State University annually provides the nation’s communicators with a New Year’s gift: its list of currently overused, abused and just plain annoying words and phrases that should be banished from our content and conversations.  The school’s 2011 scratch-off list includes:

  • Viral
  • Epic
  • Fail
  • Wow Factor
  • A-Ha Moment
  • Back Story
  • BFF
  • Man Up
  • Refudiate
  • Mama Grizzlies
  • The American People
  • I’m Just Sayin’
  • Facebook and Google (as verbs)
  • Live Life to the Fullest

This awesome collection (awesome must have been on last year’s list) of redundancies, misapplications and overall imprecision may help us avoid the verbal gravel pits in which, for some reason, we enjoy wallowing. (Perhaps it’s easier to fall back on a trendy reference than to say what we really mean.)  But even more helpful would be a list of terms that we should be adding to our discourse—words that might contribute to advancing our communications instead of bogging them down in cultural buzz-goop.

Here are half a dozen terms that I would nominate for extending our communications in a more constructive direction:

  • Concrastinate – to communicate at the first possible moment instead of the last (replaces “procrastinate”)
  • Calmity—the characteristic by which communicators and managers avert a calamity, entailing calm, strong, preventive actions (replaces “crisis management”)
  • Engagement master – an individual who involves his or her audiences in discussion, demonstration, idea-sharing and brainstorming to help educate them (replaces “presenter”)
  • Hello – a word employed to verbally answer a phone call, rather than respond to a text message, tweet or post on a mobile device (replaces any number of vowel-less concoctions)
  • Facebook Friendly —a badge or corporate policy indicating that a company encourages its employees to communicate at their desks via social media for everything from collaboration to customer service (replaces attitudes of senior executives who fail to realize that critique leads to improvement and that disgruntled employees have social-networked mobile phones)
  • Prepone – to commit to collaborate on time, rather than cancel a meeting 10 minutes after it was scheduled to begin (replaces “postpone”)

What words would you add to this list?  Being Facebook friendly, I urge you to concrastinate and post your comments now.

—Steve Friedman