Top 20 catch phrases to avoid at work

The business world is notorious for creating buzz words / phrases or taking existing words / phrases and giving them new meaning.

Some of these were accepted and have now become part of the workplace vernacular. Others have fallen out of fashion and are rarely used today.

You will also find that some words / phrases are unique to your organisation. I can remember one organisation abbreviating the term ‘performance improvement plan’ to PIP and then describing people who were asked to complete the plan as being ‘pipped’. Needless to say it was often used in a negative (if not downright derogatory) way and is a good example of how not to use corporate shorthand as everyday language!

In a 2013 survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management corporate jargon was said to be used in nearly 65 per cent of offices and 23 per cent of workers consider it to it to be a pointless irritation.  ‘Blue sky thinking’ and ‘Thinking outside the box’ are the most overused metaphors followed by "going forward" and "let's touch base".

On one professional website the forum asked people to tell us their most used, least liked and most ridiculous ‘catch phrases’. I thought I would share them with you … and a few of my own …

  1. Actioned e.g. ‘I / we‘ll get that actioned’ INSTEAD OF I / we can do that
  2. Key stakeholders e.g. Who are the key stakeholders for this project? INSTEAD OF Who can influence this project? or Who is affected by this project?
  3. Please advise? INSTEAD OF Can you let me know?
  4. Going forward INSTEAD OF From today / now on.
  5. We need to “baseline” the project INSTEAD OF We need to identify where we are starting from.
  6. Procure INSTEAD OF Buy.
  7. Take ownership INSTEAD OF Be responsible [for the project, activity or outcome].
  8. Implement (as a verb) INSTEAD OF Put into effect [aka “do”].
  9. Let’s use […] as a sounding board INSTEAD OF Let’s ask […] for their opinion
  10. Policy e.g. What's our policy for … INSTEAD OF How do we do this?
  11. Procedure e.g. What is the procedure for completing this task? INSTEAD OF What steps / actions do we need to take to complete this task?
  12. Let’s workshop this INSTEAD OF Let’s meet to discuss this in more detail.
  13. You can have this by close of play today INSTEAD OF You can have this by the end of the day.
  14. Strategic staircase INSTEAD OF A business plan.
  15. Reach out INSTEAD OF make contact.
  16. I’ll ping that over to you INSTEAD OF I’ll email the information to you.
  17. Low hanging fruit INSTEAD OF Easy to win business
  18. Touch base offline INSTEAD OF Let's meet and talk.
  19. It’s on my radar INSTEAD OF I’m aware of it … and finally
  20. Thought shower … This is a fancy new phrase for a brainstorm!!

There are many, many more - and I would love to know which ones you dislike the most so send them over and I’ll add them to the list!