The most and least annoying corporate jargon phrases

Do you speak in corporate jargon? A survey has found the most and least loved phrases. 


We love to hate corporate jargon. But it’s also very useful. How else do you know what to say when you’re suddenly called on to speak up in a meeting and you actually have no idea what anyone is talking about (either because you haven’t been listening or because everyone is speaking in corporate jargon)?

Like this:

Manager: “What do you think, Mary?”
Mary: (who has been busy making a shopping list or giving an Oscar acceptance speech, or whatever, in her head) “I think we need to ask ourselves if this will scale, determine the value add and run it up the flagpole. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”)
Everyone murmurs and nods in agreement.

Hurray! Mary has just used corporate jargon to save herself. What did she say? Does she like the idea? Hate the idea? Nobody knows! But they all agree, because it sounds like a very business-like plan.

The best loved and least loved corporate jargon phrases

There are, it seems, some jargon phrases people like and hate more than others. And Verizon set out to find out what these are. The company surveyed 1,000 adults on their use of, and opinions on, office idioms. And found that these are the top five most disliked phrases:

“Analysis paralysis”
“I’ll ping you”
“I’ll run that up the flagpole”
“Boil an ocean”
“Behind the 8 ball”

And these are the top five best liked office jargon phrases:

“Big picture”
“All hands on deck”
“Bring to the table”
“Go all in”
“Out of the box”

Not liking a phrase doesn’t mean we don’t use it

“Analysis paralysis,” which refers to “overthinking so much you become debilitated and cannot move forward,” is the most unloved office term, as you can see. Interestingly, this doesn’t mean people don’t use it. According to Verizon, of the 25.7% of respondents who reported disliking the phrase “analysis paralysis” 10.53% still use it often and 17.41% use it sometimes. “In other words, around 25% of the people who claimed they weren’t a fan of it still use it.”

“I’ll ping you” is apparently the least favourite phrase among women, but they didn’t say which was the least favourite among men or if it was different.

Almost everyone, on the other hand, uses the term “big picture” and people don’t seem to mind it, as it’s the most favoured office jargon phrase.

I’d never even heard of the term “boil an ocean.”

It’s probably best in most cases to use corporate jargon sparingly, as people will eventually probably figure out that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about. On the other hand, maybe they won’t. I think there are actually some folks out there spending their entire careers hiding their lack of knowledge behind corporate jargon. I had a manager who was like this. She could spend an entire hour repeating the phrases “what that looks like” and “moving forward.” Well, more power to them, I guess. I mean, why not. Whatever works.

Verizon also provided this handy jargon glossary. Thanks, Verizon!

30,000 foot view: To look at the overall goals and objectives rather than small details.
Action-item: A take-away task that needs to be completed in the near future.
All hands on deck: All employees are needed to complete a project.
Analysis paralysis: Overthinking a situation to the point that nothing actually gets accomplished.
Back-end essential: work that goes into the creation of a product that a customer doesn’t see.
Bandwidth: Referring to the amount of time someone has available to spend.
Behind the 8 ball: Referring to being in a difficult situation.
Big Picture: The ultimate goal or main idea.
Boil an ocean: To take on an impossible project or task.
Bring to the table: Referring to the skills or value that someone can bring to your company.
Buy-in: Accepting or committing to an idea or course of action.
Change agent: A person who is the catalyst for business improvements or innovation.
Circle back: The notion to revisit a topic at a later time.
Deck: Shorthand for a set of PowerPoint presentation slides.
Deep dive: To look at the details of a project closely.
Disconnect: (as a noun) A situation where expectations differ from reality.
Disruptive: Referring to the process of changing existing technology with something new.
Dot your i’s and cross your t’s: To be detail oriented and thorough in your tasks.
Drill down: To look further into the matter or get more details.
Go all in: To put all of your energy or resources into something.
Heavy lifting: Bearing the burden of the most difficult and time-consuming work on a project.
High level: To explain a concept without getting into the small, technical details.
Holistic overview: To take into account other external factors that can affect an outcome.
I’ll ping you: Send someone a message using an online messaging system.
I’ll run that up the flagpole: Moving the project on to the next appropriate person for approval.
Ideate: To think of and came up with new ideas.
In the weeds When a task is too hard to accomplish because there are too many problems involved.
KPIs: Key Performance Indicators; points used to evaluate the performance of something or someone.
Learning (as a noun): Knowledge gained from a conversation or past project.
Leverage: Manipulating a situation so someone can control it in their favor.
Low-Hanging fruit: Tasks that are easy to accomplish or problems that can be easily solved that provide clear benefits.
Onboarding: Assimilating a new employee into an organization; introducing service to new customers.
Out-of-the-box: An idea that is unusual or new.
Put a pin in it: To delay discussion, engagement, or work on a project to another time.
Quick win: Something that can be done quickly that will provide a beneficial outcome.
Reinvent the wheel: To redo an existing process, idea, or way of thinking.
ROI: “Return on Investment” i.e. whether something is worth it.
Stack hands: To imply that every team member is in it together.
Sync up: To meet with someone and touch base on an idea or topic.
Take it offline: To discuss something with someone in a separate time and place.
Touch base: To meet or talk with something about a specific issue.
Value-add: Benefits of a feature that provides value to customers.
Where/when the rubber meets the road: The time or place at which something matters the most.
Wordsmithing: To change, edit, or make a play on words.

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