The 50 Most Annoying Office Jargon Phrases

Expecting all your coworkers to understand your jargon is just blue-sky thinking. Maybe we should brainstorm or action a project so that going forward we can think outside of the box and make sure we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. If not, we can circle back and not have to re-invent the wheel to understand each other.

These are just a few of the phrases that London Offices collected in a survey of jargon we can’t stand. While almost all of us say we hate jargon, American Express OPEN just released a survey that said that 64 of Americans use jargon multiple times per week. And the problem with that is that jargon isn’t very clear; they also discovered that 88 percent of Americans pretend to understand office jargon.

While the London survey identified phrases that our friends in the UK use, most seem to be the same as we use in the US. I admit I hadn’t heard “make sure we are all singing from the same hymn-sheet,” but I intend to adopt it in my side gig (unpaid) as a church music director. It won’t be jargon then, though.

Here are the phrases the Brits found annoying, as reported by the Daily Mail. What ones should we add to it?

  1. Blue-sky thinking
  2. Idea shower
  3. To ‘action’ a project
  4. Going forward
  5. Brainstorm
  6. Getting the ball rolling
  7. Drill down
  8. Out of the loop
  9. Thinking outside the box
  10. Touch base
  11. Singing from the same hymn-sheet
  12. Circle back
  13. Strategic fit
  14. Bottom line
  15. Low hanging fruit
  16. Win-win
  17. Play hardball
  18. Best practice
  19. On my radar
  20. Bench mark
  21. Value added
  22. To run an idea up the flagpole
  23. Results driven
  24. Revert
  25. Game-plan
  26. Hit the ground running
  27. Customer centric
  28. No ‘i’ in team
  29. Back to the drawing-board
  30. Re-inventing the wheel
  31. Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s
  32. Action plan
  33. Bells and whistles
  34. Moving the goalposts
  35. Back of the net
  36. On the same page
  37. Open door policy
  38. To ‘ping’ an email
  39. Kick a project into the long grass
  40. Joined up thinking
  41. Pick up and run with it
  42. Streamline
  43. Close of play
  44. To take an idea or project ‘off piste’
  45. Level playing field
  46. Quick win
  47. In the driving seat
  48. No brainer
  49. To ‘park’ a project
  50. ASAP

Instead of one of these phrases, say what you really mean. Then you don’t run the risk of people misunderstanding you. Although, sometimes, when you have nothing of value to say, being misunderstood at least lets the other person think they are the problem instead of you.

This originally appeared at Inc.

Related Posts

11 thoughts on “The 50 Most Annoying Office Jargon Phrases

  1. How did “open the kimono” and “eat our own dogfood” not make the list?

    1. I have not heard eat our own dogfood before and I’m grateful. Open the kimono needs to never come up again.

  2. Strategizing,
    Enterprise wide (though I have gotten used to this one)

  3. Solution a problem (once I asked the speaker if she meant solve and she glared at me)
    Incent (as in provide an incentive)

  4. All these word salad phrases is just an attempt to sound as if the person using those words actually knows what they’re talking about, making it harder to understand what the goal is. Most of the time, these individuals are just trying to show how they can with word illusions appear pro efficient and “reactive”. But they have no idea of what really works to achieve the end goal.

  5. Proper use of words and phrases are symbolic representations of complex concepts, processes, procedures, and information.

    A person can use a common phrase to efficiently communicate in the fewest words possible what would require orders of magnitude more words to explain to the less knowledgeable, wasting the time of the more knowledgeable. If a person doesn’t understand a phrase they should take it upon themselves to learn or ask questions one on one _without_ slowing everyone else down. And embarrassing themselves in the process.

  6. I just read a “ha ha look how bad Gen Z is” article in Forbes or something similar that was pointing out how absurd it was that that Gen Z workers don’t know these 15 common “business phrases”.

    I actually didn’t recognize most of them myself and I’ve been working in finance for the last 13 years. At least your list are phrases I’ve actually heard in the office.

    Totally agree with you that Jargon is a tool to obsfucate and not great communication in general.

  7. “Offshore”. The first time I heard that one was when I was working in Louisiana (where I was born and raised). Offshore literally meant, off-shore, as in on an oil rig. No idea how it came to mean overseas/international.

Comments are closed.

Are you looking for a new HR job? Or are you trying to hire a new HR person? Either way, hop on over to Evil HR Jobs, and you'll find what you're looking for.