"Proud to say we are leveraging core competencies to align with the shift to omnichannel."

Whether this sentence makes you laugh or cringe, it is immediately recognizable for its overuse of corporate buzzwords and jargon.

But this isn't exactly a helpful alternative for an all-hands email or public announcement: "Q1 results just dropped and they're lit 🔥🔥🔥"

For a private Slack message to a co-worker, though? Why not?

Casual, digital-influenced language is crashing the old formal structures of workplace communication, thanks in no small part to hybrid office arrangements and the variety of messaging apps now in use. And every new generation of workers brings a new vocabulary.

"It has been a concern for employers over the last five to 10 years with new generations coming in with new styles of seeing the world — everything is so casual and quick and instantaneous," said Karen Burke, HR knowledge adviser at the Society for Human Resource Management. "It's magnified now with more employee communication happening electronically."

Virtual communication has opened up more channels for dialogue in the office — Microsoft Teams video meetings and chats, Slack channels and private messages — but it brings the abbreviation-riddled, emoji-laced language of text messages into the office.

Again, that's fine for personal conversations among colleagues, Burke says, so long as it is not harmful. She said employees — and their bosses — need to know their audience and use the right tone, and terms, for the occasion.

"When speaking to your manager or director you may need to turn down the abbreviations being used," she said. "I think a lot of employees, and I wouldn't put an age on it, are having challenges knowing their audience."

Conflict can arise not because slang or abbreviations are unknown but based on whether they belong in the workplace.

"Older workers or those in certain positions may view it as disrespectful, while the person communicating may think of it as quicker and using less words," Burke said.

It may simply be a matter of coaching, new-hire training or ongoing reminders to set expectations in the workplace, virtual or not.

"Communications plans are being updated to include digital communications, and we see them being used more," Burke said. "I'm seeing more employers asking for sample policies."

That comes alongside a rise in social media videos turning mundane office lingo into fodder for content.

One trend on TikTok and Instagram in recent years is giving new definitions to office-speak like "Let's circle back." @loewhaley jokingly describes "Let's take this offline" as "What you're saying is irrelevant to this conversation and I need you to stop talking. Also maybe we'll discuss it later."

Social media creators are also credited with bringing terms like "quiet quitting" into the mainstream, changing the way we talk about work, not just what we are saying at work.

"I'm not telling you to slack off, but you can only do what you can do," @resumeaddict opined on Bare Minimum Mondays.

The jokes about office jargon strike a chord because they can create a language of belonging — or exclusion.

Harvard Business Review studied the use of jargon in 2021 and found that while it can simplify internal communication and offer a feeling of membership, it can also impose costs. Again it comes down to knowing your audience.

"Jargon use can hurt impressions of a speaker; audiences often view these speakers as conniving, manipulative or less likable," the study said.

One way to combat overusing buzzwords and niche terms: Start at the top.

"If you want to reduce excessive jargon use in your company, start with communications from the top," the authors found. "Low-status professional members use jargon precisely because they associate it with status, so breaking that association is key."

Somewhere between excessive emojis and endless jargon is a business-casual approach suitable for most office interactions and public-facing communications.

The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN), a group of federal employees focused on easy-to-understand government communication, says: "Write for your audience. ... Know the expertise and interest of your average reader, and write to that person. Don't write to the experts, the lawyers or your management, unless they are your intended audience."

These kind of soft skills may have been missed by new hires who spent the last years of their schooling in largely virtual environments. But Burke said it's never too late to learn.

"It's communication etiquette," he said.