Twelve Examples of Office Jargon that Make Me Cringe!

Mind your language

Image made by the author in Canva Pro

I love English, with its myriad influences and ability to express many shades of meaning (although other languages are no slouches in that, e.g., Urdu and French that I know of).

Metaphors give power, similes add a dash of colour, and colloquialisms provide infinite variety and interest. Abbreviations and mnemonics must be tolerated for the sake of efficiency. And slang, what can we do but accept its inevitability?

But there’s one category of the language that gets my chuddies in a twist, for I feel it is imbecilic, does mere timepass, eats my brain, makes me take tension, and taints the good name of English.

And that’s corporate lingo.

Here are a dozen I noted down with a cringe.

1. Touch base

Sorry, touch what?! I don’t want anyone touching my base. And I don’t want to touch yours. The world is not the US of A, and baseball is hardly played anywhere (Come on, Japan, what got into you? A weird form of Stockholm Syndrome? And who hits a ball with a round stick anyway?).

2. Double click

Know this one? It means to look at something in more detail. Why not just say that?

3. Reach out

Are you blind or something? Why this groping around? Just call me or chat with me or whatever. Please. I am not so hard to contact.

4. Technical debt

I struggled with this one when I first heard it. Whose debt? To whom? For what? Is there interest involved? I felt so foolish. Then I found out it was just bugs in the code. And nowadays, other existing problems in technology. I don’t know why these deserve such a highfalutin phrase. I’ll just call them bugs and issues if you don’t mind. Or even if you do.

5. Zero-sum game

What sort of game is this? I’ve never played it. Does it end in zero? What is added or subtracted? Is it a good or bad thing? Even my late dad used it; bless his soul. I reluctantly satisfied my curiosity to find it just means one party loses as much as the other gains. But isn’t that more true in life than win-win (another hoary jargon chestnut for you!)? I think I’ll say, ‘I gain, you lose’. It’s a lot clearer, at least for simple old me.

6. Synergy

Just because it sounds like energy, it’s not a hot word. Or cool, if that’s what you aim for. Can we simply cooperate or collaborate?

7. With all due respect

I guarantee this will be followed by something that implies you deserve none and are, in fact, an idiot. Is it really better than a forthright, ‘You have no clue because…’?

8. Bandwidth

Time, just time. That is what you don’t have. Or claim not to have. Are you a radio? Then please don’t say bandwidth.

9. Circle back

Right, is that your normal mode of movement? Going around in circles? Could you check and just come back in a straight line? Try it. Might save you much time and effort.

10. Surface it

Using nouns as verbs is a dangerous trend driving rampant corporate-speak. First, we must admire those who start and stick with it until it gets a life of its own. Then we should give them a wrist burn for inflicting it on the world. As to surface, just find out or reveal, I beg you.

11. Quite frankly

So we take it you habitually lie the rest of the time?

12. Skin in the game

Ouch, the image hurts. Why the violence? Can we not just own something or have a stake?

I am guilty of having used several of these at one time or another. But now I have become acutely alert and avoid them like the blazes. Not only is it tedious to hear hackneyed and hokey phrases, but they also mislead us and dumb down the conversation.

But hey, what do I know? If you aren’t convinced, then go ahead and inject them all into your next meeting. People may think you are a guru and cutting edge, and it could lead to your next progression.

Connect with me!


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