15 pieces of corporate jargon that drive you nuts

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BuzzwordEvery year, in offices around the world, people are exposed to corporate buzzwords. They’re thrown at you in meetings, they assault you on conference calls, and no ear is safe from them when networking.

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If you’ve been affected by office jargon, business lingo or management speak, you’re not alone. If you’ve told someone to couch an idea or drill down, or simply asked someone for a top-level analysis, it’s not your fault. Those phrases are contagious, and you don’t even have to know what they mean to throw them around.

Sure, these sayings may come in handy when trying to convey a complicated idea in situations where everyone is on the same page. Unfortunately, they can also be used when someone is trying to make something bad sound good or, even worse, when someone has no idea what they’re talking about but wants to sound like they do.

There’s really no telling when or where you’ll run into it, but there’s still hope to put an end to office jargon in this lifetime.

The next time you hear someone tell you about potential pain points, an alarm will go off in your mind. When you start to talk about best practices or discuss a paradigm shift, you’ll stop and ask yourself, “What did I just say?”

The corporate buzzword you’d like to eliminate
If you’re anything like the members of CareerBuilder’s social media community, you’re ready to take a stand. We asked them a simple question: If you could eliminate just one piece of office jargon, what would it be?

Based on the responses we received, there was a clear winner:  “Think outside the box.”

1. “Of course it’s good to be innovative, but this term for innovation has become quite the opposite and a cliché!” — Corinne K., via Facebook

Other pieces of office jargon on the chopping block:

2. “’Ducks in a row.’ Unless bowling is truly your line of work, it doesn’t apply in an office setting.” — Ilada W., via Facebook

3. “’The trajectory of the project’ … The average employee isn’t on top of the latest buzz phrases. Then to add insult to injury, the definitions change with each corporation and between the public and private sectors.” — Dianne J., via Facebook

4. “’Let’s take this offline.’ Didn’t know I was online.” — Darcy D., via Facebook

5. “I absolutely despise the way my company throws about the word ‘bandwidth.’” — Jennifer S., via Facebook

6. “’Clarifying question’… I’m pretty sure that is the definition of asking a question.” — Elizabeth Q., via Facebook

7. “’Utilize.’ Just say use for crying out loud.” — Todd N., via Facebook

8. “’Silos.’ Just say everyone needs to work together!” — Nora C., via Facebook

9. “’Low-hanging fruit.’ Reminds me of one of my least favorite bosses who always used that phrase at brainstorming meetings.” — Colleen H., via Facebook

10. “’Perception is reality.’ Hate that one.” — Crispin J., via Facebook

11. “’LEVERAGE!’ Gag.” — Franklin D., via Facebook

12. “’Synergy,’ like nails on a chalkboard!” — Kim V., via Facebook

13. “’Lean in.’ It’s everywhere! Can’t we go back to talking about being invested in our employees, clients and communities?” — @RadRachie, via Twitter

14. “’Our value-add is that we have been in business for 1,000 years.’ No, that’s trivia.” — @BillFlorin, via Twitter

15. “’What is your takeaway from our conversation.’ This phrase is so overused. I just cringe when I hear myself using it!” — Suzanne M., via LinkedIn

Sound off: What’s the ONE piece of management speak you’d never like to hear again?

5 Comments
  1. At a previous job we would have monthly staff meetings (which usually was our supervisor reading his mail to us) that were boring.  We developed and played a BINGO game that consisted of the hot buzz words.  Everything was going well; supervisor unaware; until one of my coworkers yelled out Bingo!

    • I can’t believe it took me this long to see your comment. That story is incredible! I’d love to include it in a post I’ve been working on. Just let me know what you think!

      - Tony

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