Survey reveals Brits’ most hated office jargon

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For many people, the summer is a perfect time to escape the stresses and strains of office life – and, it seems, the business jargon that often comes with it.

As employees set their out-of-office messages and escape for a well-deserved rest, a survey of 2,000 people has revealed the buzzwords that the UK’s office workers find most annoying.

The research, conducted by job site Glassdoor, found that ‘touch base’ – a term meaning to meet or talk about a specific issue – was seen as the most annoying word by a quarter of UK office workers (24%).

In second place was the phrase ‘blue sky thinking’ – a term for creative thinking not grounded in reality – which put off more than a fifth of workers (21%).

A number of terms vied for third place in the poll, with 13% of respondents claiming to be irritated by the terms ‘we’re on a journey’ (a phrase suggesting a company, team or project has yet to reach its mission or objective), ‘game changer’ (a product, idea or process that represents a significant shift in thinking or way of doing things) and ‘no-brainer’ – the claim that something is an irrefutably good idea.

David Whitby, UK Country Manager at Glassdoor said: “No one wants to be the office jargon junkie but who isn’t guilty of using some of these buzzwords from time to time?!

“Phrases like ‘touch base’ and ‘no-brainer’ have certainly entered the common vernacular, but beware overusing jargon.

“It’s important to remember that each company and office may well have its own culture, language quirks and acronyms, so new starters should try and get to grips with that quickly to help integrate.”

Other buzzwords that proved unpopular with 11% of office workers included ‘thought shower’ (a meeting to share ideas, often without considering practical limitations), ‘run it up the flagpole’ (a suggestion to present an idea and see if it generates a favourable reaction) and ‘if you don’t like it, get off the bus’ – an implication that if a colleague is unhappy, they should leave the company.

The survey also found that one in ten workers are unlikely to be won over when their boss talks about their company’s ‘mission statement’, while 9% listed ‘punch a puppy’ – a term meaning to do something horrible for the greater good – as the jargon term most likely to annoy them at work.

Other terms that merited an honourable mention included ‘stakeholder’, ‘paradigm shift’, ‘bandwidth’ and ‘roadmap’.

For jargon-haters, the message is clear. If you've come back from your summer holiday and can’t face the prospect of another thought shower, it may just be time to get off the bus…


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