How We Use “the Buzzwords”

by Jason Allen

In fraternity and sorority, we often fall victim to “the buzzwords”. Our intent gets lost in our word choices, and becomes diluted into random phrases instead of powerful messages. What if we rethink the way we use buzzwords, and use them as they are intended rather than hashtags on Instagram? Here are a few of my favorite buzzwords, and what they mean to me:

Intentionality: I think what we mean when we use this is to show that we want to be having direct and focused conversations. When I say I am being intentional, I mean my mind and heart are in the right place, and I would love to really focus my energy on this one thing at this time. I want to be intentional on my word choice, because words matter. I am making the choice to be mindful about how I am approaching a person, a topic, or a boundary. Intentionality.

Leaning in: I think what we mean when we say this is that we are being present and diving into something rather than turning away. We are making the choice to opt-in, instead of opting-out. It could be during an intense conversation or during a chaotic moment, but we know being present and offering of ourselves is more important than ignoring it. Sometimes, we need to opt-out for self-preservation and keeping ourselves emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even physically safe. But, we lean in when we know it counts, and when we know it matters. Leaning in.

Vulnerable: As one of the most overused buzzwords, I think we mean to say we are being open and truly transparent and sharing things we normally wouldn’t. We are making the choice to put ourselves out there, when we know we could be judged. We are showing people a side of us that might not always be seen, and are allowing people to see a little deeper into who we are. And when we ask for someone to be vulnerable with us, we are inviting them in to make a choice to pull down their barriers and be truly present with us. Vulnerable.

Challenge & Support: This one is often tossed around with advisors and mentors (mentor, another fancy buzzword), but shows up in our chapters as well. We are trying to say that we hear and see and understand what you are attempting, but please allow me to have you think differently. And while you are trying to reframe and rethink, we are going to love you through it and to it. We are making a choice to engage and care enough to push back a little, and then take care of you while we push. We often times need to use challenge and support when discussing more delicate and serious matters, and again, are choosing to take the journey with you. Challenge & Support.

This is only four of the many we use, including, but not limited to: mentor, sisterhood/brotherhood, authenticity, values-based, accountability, and dialogue. What I want to challenge us to do (and I will support you through it) is to use the buzzwords as enhancers, not as words we hide behind. During recruitment, let’s use these words to truly talk about the experience, not about the script we use that has the words flowing through it.  In our meetings, lets actually be present instead of using a buzzword to tell everyone how present you are. What I’m saying is, let’s make better choices around our words.

How will you use your favorite buzzword differently today?