The cringe-worthy workplace jargon we all use (and everybody hates)

Are you down with the lingo? Using the latest catchphrases and business jargon to sound hip and in the know? Stop it. Stop it now. You’re annoying everyone.

A new survey of thousands of workers has revealed the most cringe-worthy expressions they hear far too often around the office. While it might be better to think outside of the box when you express yourself rather than relying on catchphrases, just don’t call it ‘thinking outside of the box.’ That’s actually the second most annoying phrase you can use.

The worst offender? The mathematically impossible “give 110 per cent.”

The study was conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Jive Communications. The team analyzed the communication behaviors of 2,000 professionals and hammered out a list of their 40 most cringe-worthy office phrases. (‘Hammer it out’ also made the cut.)

Here are the top 20 expressions they would most like to throw under the bus

Give 110 percent

Think outside the box

Hammer it out

Heavy lifting

Throw them under the bus

Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched

Pushing the envelope

Let the cat out of the bag

Let’s circle back

Win-win situation

Blue-sky thinking

Boil the ocean


Low-hanging fruit

Take it to the next level

Barking up the wrong tree

Going forward

Let’s ballpark this

Run this up the flagpole

Back to square one

Deep dive, skin in the game, reach out, and touch base also cracked the top 40 most irritating phrases. You can read the complete list here.

While making sure that we “have all of our ducks in a row” did not make this particular list of annoying expressions, it used to be a pet peeve of mine. That ended when a manager early in my career booked a meeting with me to confirm that “all of our ducks were on the same page.” Still makes me smile. I love a good mixed metaphor.

How about you? What are the office-speak expressions and jargon that rub you the wrong way?

8 ways to ruin your resume

New study shows how employers view grades differently for women and men