Words I Could Live Without
Ministry. Half the people who hang out in any coffee shop in Western Michigan are there because they have a "ministry," which consists of (i) talking to each other (too loudly) about how their church's $5 million building expansion and audio-visual technology initiative will improve the church's "ministry" and (ii) explaining to you why you should join their church and help support its "exciting new ministry"--a $5 million building expansion and audio-visual technology initiative.
I think that only ordained ministers should have ministries. Everyone else should quietly sip their de-caf double mocha lattes, say their prayers, and do their best to live good lives.
And give the $5 million to the poor.
Stakeholder. In the world of social services, "stakeholders" are periodically given an opportunity for "input" on the "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats" posed to the existing social services programs. Everyone, of course, is a "stakeholder." On any particular issue, your steak may be filet mignon and mine might be Salisbury, but we are both "stakeholders," so we must have an opportunity for "input," which must be grouped, reported, analyzed and arrayed across many multi-colored pie charts.
In every statistical report from "stakeholders," there must be several "compelling narratives."
I have no problem with strategic planning and am a sucker for a good story, but "stakeholder" is a word that should not be used outside of the cast list of a vampire movie.
Folks. In written reports, people are "clients" and "consumers,"* but when the report turns oral or someone asks a difficult question, people quickly become "these folks" and "those folks." "Folks" is a very strange word and, in this context, an odd usage--mixing condescension, familiarity, an "aw, shucks" populism, and the word's Germanic origins ("volks"--which means "people," but which also had a near mystical connotation in Nazi propaganda) into a totemic noun--an entity which has an undifferentiated face, a beehive's intellect, and a common--if sometimes, inscrutable--will. "These folks" are an entity which must be simultaneously admired, ignored, and served. Too often, any particular member of "those folks" is portrayed as "the Other"--a problem; a non-person to be denied services, punished, or avoided.
What are the words you hear (or read) too often and could live without?
*And of course, "stakeholders."