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.

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”