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

I need my Stapler

August 31st, 2010
4:23 pm

These 2 will cause me to kill the person who says them:

1. “We need to take it up a notch”

2. “Make it Happen”

Whenever a manager or Executive says “Make it Happen”, I automatically hear :I don’t know how to complete this myself, so I’m telling you to do it so that I will look good and keep my worthless azz in this position.

Mona

August 31st, 2010
4:23 pm

’skin in the game’ ‘pull the trigger’ ‘at the end of the day’ ‘go figure’ ‘cut to the chase’ ‘git er dun’ ‘bottom line’

KL

August 31st, 2010
4:23 pm

Stay “on point”!

Mona

August 31st, 2010
4:24 pm

oh yay, how could i forget…’got yo back’

I need my Stapler

August 31st, 2010
4:25 pm

Oh yeah, and “Failing to feed the beast”. WTF???

High-flyer

August 31st, 2010
4:27 pm

What about “30,000 foot view”?
Don’t they know apoxia sets in at that altitude?

PDawg

August 31st, 2010
4:27 pm

How about “I could care less”….when it’s “I couldn’t care less”.

GADAWGGIRL

August 31st, 2010
4:29 pm

I once worked with a lady who said, “you know what I mean” after almost EVERYTHING she said. I wanted to say, no, why don’t you tell me what you mean.

Lee

August 31st, 2010
4:29 pm

…having a hard time understanding the difference between flirting and sexual harrassment in the office.

Lee

August 31st, 2010
4:30 pm

“dont want to steal your thunder” I hate that one…

Magnum P.I.

August 31st, 2010
4:30 pm

The most annoying ones are “Boy, you ain’t neva lie!”. If someone wholeheartedly agrees with something, be ready to hear “Ain’t dat da truth!”

Some other ones:
“Guys, let’s have a postmortem after this meeting” –seriously?

“Does anyone know who is on call this week?” –Mind you, scheduled has never changed in 3 years.

“Where are with [Fill in the blank]” –Check your email damn it!

Mona

August 31st, 2010
4:32 pm

jus 1 more: ‘Heads up’

JST

August 31st, 2010
4:32 pm

Thought leadership

GADAWGGIRL

August 31st, 2010
4:33 pm

Also annoying is the word irregardless…drives me nuts. The word is regardless!!!

Recognize

August 31st, 2010
4:33 pm

“Real Quick”
“Hey, how you doin”

Lee

August 31st, 2010
4:34 pm

If your boss sits in your lap, is that sexual harrassment or just flirting.

thebig70

August 31st, 2010
4:35 pm

I may not get here on time, but i guarantee you I will leave on time! (Quote from manager)

Casey

August 31st, 2010
4:35 pm

PROACTIVE – my hackles rise every time I hear the word. I worked at Gwinnett Libraries, and that Joanne Pinder creature decided that the librarians had to be “proactive”. We were to troll the book stacks and search for people who might need help, instead of being at the desk where people could find us. People were always calling “Hello, is anyone working here?”.

thebig70

August 31st, 2010
4:37 pm

Lets corner the market on all Microsoft software!

Angela

August 31st, 2010
4:38 pm

old, but still around: “let’s run it up the flagpole”

Liar

August 31st, 2010
4:38 pm

Clara, you’re post isn’t very veiled, honey.

Liar

August 31st, 2010
4:39 pm

My apologies… it’s “your”. Fingers are moving fast today.

thebig70

August 31st, 2010
4:39 pm

Are you sure? Really? OK cool!

AngryRedMarsWoman

August 31st, 2010
4:40 pm

Verbiage. As in “can you recommend some verbiage for this section of the contract?” LOL. I am a lawyer of course I can give you, as Merriam-Webster’s defines it, “a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content”. Come on folks, it doesn’t mean words…it means wordiness and if you knew any better it would be amusingly insulting.

GADAWGGIRL

August 31st, 2010
4:43 pm

Hey thebig70 – My manager’s twin sister used to say, last in, first out. She was very serious and truthful.

thebig70

August 31st, 2010
4:43 pm

No one else was available to pick her up from the airport, they were all working. (Quote from manager)

juanita

August 31st, 2010
4:45 pm

I have to use it, but I hate these:
Follow Up
Touch Base
Off line
I hate it when a new person starts and the second day, people go up to them and say “Oh you came back”

GADAWGGIRL

August 31st, 2010
4:46 pm

Let’s do lunch.

Pazzo

August 31st, 2010
4:46 pm

“I will tee up the deck and look to you for the heavy lifting” = “I will introduce our solution and you will present, via power point, how we got to that solution ” also means ” You do all the work and create a power point then during the meeting I will take the credit.”

AngryRedMarsWoman

August 31st, 2010
4:49 pm

“we” – because it always means me when it comes to doing the work and them when it comes to getting the bonus.

Randy

August 31st, 2010
4:55 pm

Here’s one. I don’t want to get “too far into the weeds”.
And quit saying “on tomorrow”! It’s just tomorrow!!!

C from Marietta

August 31st, 2010
4:58 pm

Ya’ll are a bunch of whiners. We are all lucky to have a job.

qwerty

August 31st, 2010
5:01 pm

I *detest* corporate speak. The following phrases, in particular, are like nails scraping on a chalk board:

ROI (Return On Investment)
SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
Leverage
Resources (usually used when management wants to hide the fact that they’re outsourcing jobs by “acquiring resources”)
In the weeds (usually uttered by a manager who is too lazy to deal with *any* detail but will drive the bus over you if a crucial detail is missed or mishandled)
And, last but not least . . .
Granular analysis (usually dismissed by those who don’t want to be too far down “in the weeds”)

Chris

August 31st, 2010
5:01 pm

Sorry if the is a repeat, but my boss says things like:

“That presentation just doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy”

or

“We need to start planting that seed”

Give me a break.

lantana

August 31st, 2010
5:02 pm

“The reality is…” followed by the speakers opinion which is seldom based in reality.

jes

August 31st, 2010
5:04 pm

Hey, C from Marietta, speak for yourself. Some of us are retired!

RCG

August 31st, 2010
5:05 pm

1. ANY reference to someone’s “skill set”…I swear this has gotten so bad and pervasive that I think I almost heard a PREACHER use it in a recent sermon…

2. Fridays-”man, I am so glad it is Friday, been looking forward to the weekend ALL WEEK”, or on Wednesday-”man, I am so glad it is HUMP DAY”…da@@i#, doesn’t ANYONE ACTUALLY LIKE THEIR JOB AND WANT TO BE THERE??????

3. “Work-life balance”,,,

Cliches are for lazy people who suck at English and CAN’T think for themselves…they are clone followers, pathetic sheep…

85

August 31st, 2010
5:09 pm

“I didn’t see the whole presentation, but i got the JEST of it”. Learn English!

Josie

August 31st, 2010
5:12 pm

Cannot stand it when you ask someone how their day is going and they reply that they are “rippin’ and runnin” or worse still “rockin’ and rollin’”. UGH

Jo

August 31st, 2010
5:15 pm

How bout when someone asks “are you working hard or hardly working”???, then laughs like it’s the funniest thing ever said. I think some folks think they invented that one…

Wad

August 31st, 2010
5:15 pm

I agree with Randy, please stop with the “on” ITS NOT “ON YESTERDAY”, ITS JUST “YESTERDAY”

Drone

August 31st, 2010
5:18 pm

@ Randy …. I thought I was hearing things everytime someone said “on tomorrow” or “on yesterday”. When I actually heard a news reporter use the phrase I almost fell on the floor.

A popular (and irritating) term around here is “lead from the seat you’re in”. Always used by someone in a seat with an excellent view.

AngryRedMarsWoman

August 31st, 2010
5:31 pm

The ultimate jabberwocky – “Ya’ll are a bunch of whiners. We are all lucky to have a job.”

Actually, I bust my butt and I am really good at what I do so they are lucky to have me. When times are tough it is this thinking that we are lucky to be working that kills us. Remain self-confident. Be valuable and know it. No decent employer wants to employ a person who feels lucky to be working. I am good and I know it…and so does my company. There are so many people falling into this trap and so many companies taking advantage of it right now that as soon as there is an upswing people will be moving so fast it will make your head swim. Too bad….people will leave otherwise good jobs and employers will lose good people all because we collectively failed to keep our wits about us and both sides failed to appreciate the value of the good employee.

Picky picky picky

August 31st, 2010
5:50 pm

I hate it when my boss says, don’t use the term “work around”, lets call it a “feature enhancement.” Not the same thing. A work around is another way of accomplishing something. A feature enhancement is an improvement to something you product offers. UGH

B

September 1st, 2010
5:47 am

These are hilarious! Some of my favorites are:
Going “toe to toe”
Reach out “live” (as opposed to…?)
Leverage (we do this with relationships, resources, knowledge, other people…)
Gain buy in
Gain commitment
Probing (I rarely find myself “probing” anyone outside of work- I usually just ask them a question)

Done With It

September 1st, 2010
10:57 am

“Saying all of that to say…” (trailed by silence as they try to remember the original purpose of the conversation)

Joan

September 2nd, 2010
12:40 pm

What about this: “Are you Joking” “Are you Serious” ” No Way”

Richard Millhouse Nixon

September 10th, 2010
10:51 am

“Let me say this about that”
“I am not a crook”
“Checkers”
“And mother would stir the oatmeal”
“Im saying if the President does it then its not a crime”

Mortimer Collins

September 10th, 2010
10:54 am

Some other favorites…

“Lets be engaged”
“We are gonna work hard and have a lot of fun”
“Yes we are merging with so and so but no one will lose their jobs”
“Lets table that”
“How can we help the other departments”
“Im gonna go get a coffee”

Gordon

September 14th, 2010
11:55 am

“Sounds like you have a case of the Mondays”