Jabberwocky in the workplace

We’ve all heard them – workplace clichés and annoying phrases that turn normally articulate people into pabulum-spewing corporate robots. Many of us have even used the buzzwords that permeate office culture and rob language of meaning and clarity.

Have you ever gotten an e-mail that sounds like this? “At the end of the day, this project has plenty of moving parts and we need to think outside the box so we can achieve the synergy required to reach our vertical metrics.”

How about this? “Do you have the bandwidth to discuss this issue now or do we need to take it offline and interface when we can get some face-time and circle back?”

Does anyone speak this way when they leave the office? It’s as if ladder-climbers are convinced they have to take some phrase they heard at a seminar and repeat it as often as possible so their manager is impressed with their business acumen.

Some former colleagues created a game called Buzzword Bingo, in which they counted how many times their boss said things like “take-away,” “buy-in” or “paradigm” during a staff meeting. You’d be surprised at how often they hit the mark.

What workplace clichés do you find most annoying? What are the most commonly used buzzwords used in your office? Are there any new ones that are unique to your job? Tell us about it.

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100 comments Add your comment

Drone

August 31st, 2010
2:40 pm

First…. Low hanging Fruit HUUUGHHHH

Drone

August 31st, 2010
2:40 pm

i simply cannot stand how often my supervisor uses phrases like “be cognizant”, “remain cognizant”, “if we are cognizant” when it is just as easy to say “aware”. i guess that’s what makes him a supervisor. this may not quite be on topic with corporate jargon, but it has become my pet peeve. LOL

Drone

August 31st, 2010
2:41 pm

@ first Drone …. this is hilarious!!!!!!!!!!! :lol: :lol:

1

August 31st, 2010
2:42 pm

“It is what it is”….I hate that one.

Wad

August 31st, 2010
2:55 pm

I actually have compiled a list because it irritates me so much:

Synergy
Opportunities
Challenges
Circle the wagons
Circle back
Reset Expectations
Drive (usually a process or conversation)
Bandwith
Take away
Portal
Piggy back
Close the loop
Latest & Greatest

Ahoy, Matey!

August 31st, 2010
2:59 pm

I hate it when a new person starts with the company and some imbecile who he or she apparently thinks they are in the Navy says “Welcome Aboard” to the new person.

The company may be a “sinking ship,” but we aren’t anywhere near water.

John Brieske

August 31st, 2010
3:04 pm

Wad: I see you did your homework! How about that one?

PDM

August 31st, 2010
3:05 pm

The Net Net is….

Artelle

August 31st, 2010
3:09 pm

“We need to drill down and get more granular . . . .”

Aargh! Drill this!

John Brieske

August 31st, 2010
3:10 pm

How about going viral?

Ham and Egger

August 31st, 2010
3:15 pm

Most annoying for me: Whenever the word “utilize” is utilized. Its USE, people. Corporate chair-moisteners love that one.

1

August 31st, 2010
3:15 pm

I had a boss once whose big word was “cogitate”…he’d say “let’s cogitate on that for a while”. They’re like puppies, they find a new word (toy) and play with it for a while.

Roekest

August 31st, 2010
3:17 pm

“At the end of the day…….”

At the end of the day I could care less if the building burned down with the boss in it, as long as my butt is in my car and I’m on the way home.

John Brieske

August 31st, 2010
3:18 pm

1: Another one that I don’t get is “ideation.” Does anyone REALLY say that?

Miles Skyway

August 31st, 2010
3:22 pm

“Take it to the next level” one of the all time worst.

LW

August 31st, 2010
3:26 pm

“We need to do a deep dive…”
“Let’s surround the matter…”
“You see, the flavor of all this is….”
“See what it is is organized chaos…, then (see above)”

cjamesatl

August 31st, 2010
3:27 pm

Here’s one: “The presentation doesn’t ‘pop’. ugh!

toots

August 31st, 2010
3:27 pm

“let’s all take our pants off” …. It’s so annoying when my boss says that

Millard Filmore

August 31st, 2010
3:28 pm

The game went around a good 15 years ago, and of course, it was called “B*llsh*t Bingo.” There were bingo cards with the word/phrases spread around, and the idea was to see how long a meeting could go on before someone jumped up yellig “B*LLSH*T!!!”

Add:

Paradigm shift

Staff (I worked with a government department head who didn’t believe in calling meetings; they all got together and “staffed” an idea.

Oh, and who could forget “team player?”

LW

August 31st, 2010
3:28 pm

Oh and “Get the ball rolling.”

John Brieske

August 31st, 2010
3:29 pm

toots: Not to mention a call to HR.

Just a Number

August 31st, 2010
3:32 pm

1. We need to achieve “organic growth”
2. “Shoot me an email”
3. “Absolutely!”

Millard Filmore

August 31st, 2010
3:35 pm

Would it be fair to add “like?” I like work with young attorneys (seven years of undergraduate and like post-graduate education) who like cannot like speak a complete like sentence without like the word “like” if their life like depended on it. Like it’s every other like word out of like their like mouths!

Mel

August 31st, 2010
3:41 pm

And when did a PowerPoint presentation become a “deck”? Took me a while to figure that one out…

J

August 31st, 2010
3:43 pm

We used to have a woman in a very high position that used the word “reillerate” instead of “reiterate”……. as in “let me reillerate”…nobody ever had enough guts to correct her.

CJ

August 31st, 2010
3:43 pm

Will you quarterback this for me?

Heard It All Before

August 31st, 2010
3:44 pm

Let us not forget:

1) Leveraging core competencies
2) Reaching out (no one just calls. e-mails or talks to someone anymore. No, you “reach out to” him/her. It’s like we’re all back-up singers in The Temptations.
3) Efforting

John Brieske

August 31st, 2010
3:53 pm

Heard It All Before: “Efforting.” Nice. I guess any noun can be verbed.

Jeff in ATL

August 31st, 2010
3:55 pm

I have two:

mute for moot, and moot itself

and

expecially for especially

Okay, I have one more:

their/they’re/there in e-mails; these people are college educated and should know the difference

itpdude

August 31st, 2010
3:56 pm

At the end of the day.

I know it’s already been mentioned, but at the end of the day is the most annoying thing.

“It is what it is” is not annoying because it’s telling people to stop complaining and accept the situation or get out. It’s better than saying to a co-worker or employee to take the tampon out, put on the big-boy pants, and get the effin’ job done for once.

Another one is “circle back.” People who say that do not get back in touch because they get stuck in a circle. How about simply returning an email or call, jackass?

Anyone who sez something about being thrown under a bus needs to literally be thrown under a bus.

Clara

August 31st, 2010
3:56 pm

I remember one on-site meeting with a high-profile client when a particular, unmotivated, undisciplined, jive-talking employee who apparently thought he was bulletproof in the workplace due to hiring quotas, when asked by the client for a detailed status update on their project for which they had paid our company a huge sum of money to complete with quality on a tight deadline simply responded with “Oh, It All Good!”

The client’s jaw dropped as the rest of us sucked the air out of the room with a collective gasp of disbelief.

(When the details of the project’s lack of progress late to light, we subsequently got sued.)

Maddestofalldogs

August 31st, 2010
4:00 pm

STOP IT!

August 31st, 2010
4:02 pm

A department head who always find a way to inject the word “ADJUDICATE” into every conversation or meeting. It has become an office joke…

I'm not a fish

August 31st, 2010
4:02 pm

“Bubble it up”

Betty

August 31st, 2010
4:03 pm

1. Uptick
2. Bilateral meetings

joe

August 31st, 2010
4:04 pm

1. soup to nuts (sounds gross and stupid)
2. granular(!!!!!)
3. that being said……(yeah, we all know when this meeting is over we’re all gonna go back to doing as little as possible).
4. updates on project(yeah, this is still being dragged along three months later when it should’ve taken 2 day max).

Yikes

August 31st, 2010
4:04 pm

I will bite the next person I hear say “100% compliant” or “value added”.

Kat

August 31st, 2010
4:07 pm

I used to work for a public school system right here in the metro area. They divided their employees into two categories: certificated, and non-certificated. WHAT? What’s wrong with certified and non-certified? If you have a certificate, you are certified, period. Why the need to make up jargon when there are perfectly good words to say what you mean?

Millard Filmore

August 31st, 2010
4:07 pm

“I hear what you’re saying…” (but I’m going to ignore it)….

Kat

August 31st, 2010
4:08 pm

Oh, and in my current job it’s “showstopper”, which apparently has taken the place of “deal-breaker.”

Millard Filmore

August 31st, 2010
4:09 pm

Drop dead date (I wish….)

Stewie

August 31st, 2010
4:12 pm

The president of our online business tried way too hard to fit in as one of the “dot com” crowd.

In her (supposed to be) motivational speeches, she would say that we don’t want to be on the cutting edge, we wanted to be on the bleeding edge. WHAT????

In reviewing financial data, she would insert “dot” instead of “point.” So instead of revenues being up 5.4 million dollars (five-point-four), she would say revenues were up five-dot-four millions dollars.

What a maroon!

Nice call on “efforting.” Stupid beyond words.

Yikes

August 31st, 2010
4:12 pm

Another one my boss always says “but in all seriousness…” WHO was joking??! Did I miss the gag or do you say that thinking you’re getting our attention??

V

August 31st, 2010
4:13 pm

“All hands on deck” is a phrase that irritates me.

Yikes

August 31st, 2010
4:15 pm

One more! We’re trying to get our eco-logo certification but if I hear one more person ask me if something is “green”, I’m gonna bite them too. NO it’s not green! The package is clearly BLUE and the word you’re looking for is RECYCLABLE!

Kat

August 31st, 2010
4:15 pm

…and if you mean “now”, say “now”. “At this point in time,” just sounds pretentious. And silly.

Cheezy

August 31st, 2010
4:19 pm

I hate it when a new person is greeted as, “Welcome to the family”, or “We are one big family”. BS. Fellow workers may be sorta friends, but never family. Also the one, “I wear many hats”. This one is famous in the ad/pr industry. This means, I will do anything to keep my job and work outside of the job description. Why is the workplace so cheezy when you know your fellow workers can be cool folks outside of the office. LOL!

Chart Gorilla

August 31st, 2010
4:19 pm

Mel- a presentation was a deck long before PowerPoint. It refers to the physical deck of slides used to present on an overhead projector.

USMC2841

August 31st, 2010
4:20 pm

“Peel the onion” and “20,000 foot view”.

PDM

August 31st, 2010
4:23 pm

Another one I get tired of:

The train is leaving the station, get on board or get off.