Office Jargon and Cliché Heaven

offensive office jargon

Courtesy of The Mail 16/06/08::

Some of these office-based clichés are worse than others. Often times, it’s not the jargon that people object to but rather the people uttering it. I’m sure we can all relate to a moronic middle manager chirping out the office clichés like they’re going out of fashion. Jargon is fine when used in context (which includes it being readily understood by the audience) and is a more efficient means of expressing an idea. More often than not, gripes about office jargon stem from users muttering these phrases to obfuscate real meaning – usually because they haven’t got an answer, don’t understand the situation fully themselves or because saying such phrases play to their ego.

It doesn’t change things though: a moron is moron whether he engages in blue-sky thinking or not.

Some of my favourites:

“Going forward” – What?!? What’s wrong with that? It’s clear, easily understood and unambiguous. I recall using it in a recent paper as an alternative to ‘in the future’. Seriously, move along – nothing to see here.

“idea showers” – apparently these are the new ‘brain-storms’ or ‘think-tanks’ blahdy blahdy blah. Some people claim to have their best ideas in the shower. When used in the office, though, this surely can’t be meant so literally. I tend not to engage in idea showers – I just beat them around with a wet towel. Next?

“let's touch base about that offline”. Wow. What a howler. I don’t know what it means and I very much doubt anybody using the phrase would either. Kill it. Kill it now.

“low hanging fruit” – I kind of like this one, if only for the exotic connotations it brings with it. I think it’s readily understood and providing it’s used in the right context and all that, I don’t see the problem.

“pre-prepare and forward planning” “Is there any other kind of preparedness or planning?" - Good point, ‘Edward from Exeter’. Pre-prepare is ridiculous, forward planning only slightly less egregious. I guess where it’s used to differentiate between planning for an imminent event and one somewhere in the more distant future, it’s just about justifiable. But I’m being generous here.

Caroline Garlick, Ayrshire: “I work in one of those humble call centres for a bank. Apparently, what we're doing at the moment is sprinkling our magic along the way. It's a call centre, not Hogwarts." Bless her for her honesty. I think it’s fair to assume none of us have any magic to sprinkle – and particularly not call-centre staff. If, though, magic might mean vagueness, general unhelpfulness and a propensity to put you ‘on hold’ for no good reason, call centre staff have it in spades. I know ‘managers’ (and I use that term loosely) have got to rally the troops somehow, just please find a more appropriate, less cheesy way of doing it.

“from the get-go”. Oh come on! Get over yourself – there’s nothing wrong with it, providing it’s not over-used.

“360-degree thinking” – not heard of this one before. Nah, bin it.

110% - I think my GF was recently bemoaning this brarmer. We both concluded it was reserved for idiots and morons (middle-managers then).

Other brarmers:

“strategic staircase” – no idea.

“drill down” – what, to the centre of the earth?

“high altitude view” – Reminds me of Paul Thurrotts’ fave “mile-high view”. Still, I love your content, Paul! :-)

“Wouldn't want to wrongside the demographic” – Kind of catchy but not if it’s uttered more than half a dozen times.

And the winner is:

“You can't have your cake and eat it, so you have to step up to the plate and face the music” – Wow. New record for the most cheesy metaphor-mixing in a single sentence.  Takes cringing to a new height.


  1. lol some of them were funny the low hanging fruit one. Some of them sounded American though.

  2. This is one of the main reasons "team meetings" got on my nerves at my old job - American representatives, talking only in jargon, and the British team leaders feeling the need to copy them to impress. Particularly the talks about how we were going to steal, I mean attract, our competitors customers.

    But a least they didn't lay it on thick with the "blue sky thinking", my Bf's work has a whole room dedicated to such matters.

  3. I'm cringing, I use some of that jargon at work. All the management do. Some of the ones used most often are:

    "Let's go offline about that" or "I'll go offline with you about that" ( usually used at team meatings to indicate, let's have a discussion about that outside of this setting"
    "Can you drill into that?" or "I'll need to drill into it to find out more"

  4. I was asked by a new PM about my 'bandwidth' once. I said I didnt know anything about internet speed, and helfully suggested (with him being new an all and mayby not knowing about such things) that perhaps the PM should speak to the networking people, who dealt with such things. He looked at me like I was a slug on his prozed lettuice for a few minutes, then asked my how busy I was, and if I had time to produce a project plan.

  5. That's a good one, Ginge!! It just goes to show the trouble using jargon and office cliches can have when, you know, "everyone's not on the same page". :p

  6. The office-based clichés and moronic middle managers eh? Accident Compensation


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