11 office buzzwords you need to stop using

11 office buzzwords you need to stop using

It’s important to understand the ideas and trends that shape your industry, but there are some buzzwords that just don’t do anyone any good.

An overzealous employee with an endless supply of workplace jargon is something of a staple in the modern office- but no one wants to be that person. Overloading your speech with industry terminology can not only be annoying, but unnecessarily confusing.

We’ve put together a list of common buzzwords that are better left unsaid. Teach yourself how to avoid them going forward so you can touch base with co-workers more effectively. It’s a no-brainer.

1. Think outside the box

Not the worst offender listed, but something that is certainly best avoided. Usually just means to ‘be creative’ or to come up with ideas that aren’t the norm.

It is ironic that this concept is described with such a vague cliché!

2. Blue-sky thinking

Brings to mind a pleasant summer afternoon in a park; when in reality you’re stuck behind a desk with someone who thinks this phrase is acceptable. An even more abstract version of ‘think outside the box’.

3. Going forward

Unless you’ve invented time travel, this is the only direction you can move in. Assume it’s obvious and don’t bother.

4. Idea-shower

Created to replace the unfashionable ‘brainstorm’. Can be boiled down to ‘get together and come up with some ideas’ or ‘meeting’- much easier to understand and 100% less annoying.

5. Touch base

Unless you work with statues or porcelain ornaments, assume that your co-workers don’t have bases, just use ‘contact’ or ‘meet up later’.

6. In/out of the loop

Avoid confusing your colleagues with vague allusions to rollercoasters and instead just say ‘informed’ or ‘uninformed’.

7. Upskill

The biggest problem with this term is that it suggests that employees are commodities that can be upgraded and improved, rather than people to be developed.

8. Action

When you ask a colleague to ‘action’ something, you mean to ‘get on with it’ – or more simply, to ‘do’ it. By saying this you risk making it seem like you’re trying to sound more important than you actually are.

9. On my radar

Unless you work for the military or in aviation, avoid any metaphors involving radars.  

10. High-altitude/high-level view

Looking down from above allows you to see the bigger picture, but there are much simpler ways of saying this. Try ‘overview’, or ‘complete understanding’, or anything that doesn’t sound as though you’re standing above your peers.

11. Run this up the flagpole

The story goes that when Betsy Ross presented George Washington with the new US flag, he joked that they should “run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it”.

This phrase was then adopted by US advertising agencies to talk about testing campaigns on the public– but it has since lost all meaning. It’s just another unnecessary metaphor to be avoided.


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