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Let's touch base with some blue-sky thinking: AKA the UK's most cringeworthy office jargon

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha
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Let's hit the ground running by peeling the onion on why office jargon is best practice for communication.

AKA, let's start by examining if office jargon is most effective for communication. 

It would appear the answer is no.

The modern day office is a minefield for employees it seems, with 70% of workers saying they switch off when their boss starts saying things like ‘think outside the box’ or ‘strategic staircase’.

The research, which surveyed 2,000 office workers in the UK, also found that four in 10 workers are often completely baffled by such phrases.

Other management speak guaranteed to confuse employees includes references to ‘low hanging fruit’, ‘a thought shower’ or the ‘helicopter view’.

This further backs up a study by Institute of Leadership & Management in 2014, which found that management speak is used in almost two thirds (64%) of offices, with nearly a quarter (23%) considering it to be a pointless irritation.

'Thinking outside the box' (57%), 'going forward' (55%) and 'let's touch base' (39%) were identified as the top three most overused pieces of jargon at the time.

"Let's touch base offline at close of play"

"Let's touch base offline at close of play."

“If you’ve ever sat in a meeting wondering what on earth colleagues are talking about, it seems you’re not the only one," says Jeremy Hulme, chief executive of animal charity SPANA, who conducted the research.

"We conducted this tongue-in-cheek survey to find out what bothers British workers and it’s clear that office jargon is a source of annoyance and confusion in workplaces up and down the country."

Just under a third of people admit they’ve had to look up the meaning of certain phrases used by another colleague. How many of the below have left you bemused?

The 50 most annoying phrases in UK offices

1. Blue sky thinking – empty thinking without influence

2. Think outside the box – think creatively

3. Touch base offline – lets meet and talk

4. Close of play – end of the day

5. Going forward – look ahead

6. No brainer – so obvious

7. Action that – put into practice

8. Drill down – investigate thoroughly

9. Thought shower – brainstorm

10. Flogging a dead horse – waste your efforts

11. Hot desking – sharing several desks with colleagues

12. Heads up – notification

13. It’s on my radar – I’m considering it

14. Joined up thinking – thinking about all the facts

15. Bring to the table – contribution to the group

16. Punch a puppy – do something detestable but good for the business

17. Run this up the flagpole – try it out

18. Cracking the whip – use your authority to make someone work better

19. Moving the goalposts – change criteria

20. EOP – end of play

21. Working fingers to the bone – working very hard

22. Game changer – fundamental shift

23. It’s not rocket science – it’s not difficult

24. Hit the ground running – start work quickly

25. Ping – get back to

26. Low hanging fruit – easy win business

27. Singing from the same hymn sheet – all on the same page

28. Strategic staircase – business plan

29. Park something – hold an idea

30. Benchmark – point of reference

31. COB – close of business

32. Reach out – contact

33. Re-inventing the wheel – steal the idea from someone else

34. Dot the I’s and cross the t’s – pay attention

35. Best practice – most effective way

36. Al Desko – lunch at the desk

37. Backburner – de-prioritise

38. Pick it up and run with it – move ahead with an idea

39. Play hardball – act forcefully

40. This idea has legs – good idea

41. Synergy – two things work together

42. I’m swamped – busy

43. It’s a win / win – good for both sides

44. Look under the bonnet – analyse the situation

45. Quick and dirty – quick solution

46. Peel the onion – examine the problem

47. Out of the loop – not involved in the decision

48. Wow factor – amazing

49. Helicopter view – broad view of the business

50. Elevator pitch – brief presentation

Images: Thinkstock

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Sejal Kapadia Pocha covers stories about everything from women’s issues to cult foods. She describes herself as a balance between Hermione and Luna Lovegood.

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