Workplace Phrases & Jargon We Need to Stop Using
We are creatures of habit, be it in our actions or through our words. And when it comes to words, some common ones threaded together need to be eliminated from the workplace. Commonly used (and often overused) workplace phrases and jargon are not only annoying, but can become meaningless when incorporated into conversation after conversation.
In fact, as per Independent, "A survey for Wonga.com found that office workers annoy their colleagues at least ten times a day with such phrases. A lot of office jargon seems to act as an intelligence amplifier. We feel that we sound brighter by using a jargon word instead of plain English. One way office jargon does this is by replacing plain, useful, straight-to-the-point-language with language that circumambulates the point."
If you aren't one of those to blame for keeping this practice going, then you've surely been on the receiving end, with an open ear that you wish was stuffed with a wad of cotton. Yet, we have become so accustomed to these phrases and jargon that it becomes something we expect to hear during work calls, meetings, and sales pitches, and read in emails and memos.
What gives? Can't we come up with something new to say? We don't use these phrases and jargon in other areas of our lives, so why are they expected and accepted at work? Before becoming the next person to jump on the irritating conversation-crushing bandwagon, take note of these common workplace phrases and jargon and vow never to utter the words again. You'll not only get your point across with more meaning since most of us have become numb to the sound of these, but co-workers, colleagues, bosses, clients, and staff will appreciate your flair for commanding the English language with a new way of communicating effectively and productively.
"Move the Needle"
You've surely heard this one before, if not once, then many times, as "move the needle" is a workplace favorite. And while the concept – "generate a reaction," as described byMicrosoft – is an important one, why not more directly say, "generate a reaction?"
"Generate" is more powerful than "move," and in 99 out of 100 cases, there is no physical "needle" to refer to when it comes to assessing change.
How about saying, "Let's positively impact or move a project forward," as Cheesy Corporate Lingo writes. The direct and confident nature of such a statement will encourage the team to get to work and make change that is noteworthy and valuable.
So, let's move "move the needle" to the annoying workplace phrases graveyard.
"Thanks in Advance"
"Thanks in advance" is most commonly used in an email situation, but it is wildly overused and must no longer be the closer of an otherwise well-composed correspondence. Essentially, you are assuming that the person you are asking something of will automatically be on board to assist or comply. It is presumptuous and probably not what you intend to convey in the first place, which is thanks for reading my email and considering my proposition.
Academic Workflows on a Macnotes, "I find this trend bordering on offensive. When you ask someone to do something over email by the time they read to the end of the email they have neither done what you have asked nor have agreed. Another problem with this phrase is it implies that your obligation to say thank you is done and you don't need to express gratitude after the person actually does what you have asked them to do." They suggest swapping "thanks in advance" for a more fitting phrase such as,
- "I really appreciate any help you can provide.
- I will be grateful if you can send me this information.
- Many thanks for considering my request.
- In the meantime, thank you so much for your attention and participation."
So, thanks in advance for cutting this phrase out of your workplace lingo.
"Let's Touch Base"
According toIntelligent Instinct, "'Let's touch base' means roughly, 'Let's get together to review or gauge our current status'." Yet for some reason, saying "let's get together" isn't workplace-savvy enough to fit the bill.
Surely most people don't use this phrase at home – "Johnny, let's touch base after you do the dishes," or "After our Mommy and Me class, let's touch base at the coffee shop and plan Katie's surprise party," so why must we do all this base-touching at the office? Most of us aren't ball players, so there's no reason to round any bases.
As perHubspot, "A Glassdoor survey revealed roughly one in four employees think 'touch base' is the most annoying buzzword. So, if you often toss it around, you might be irritating your coworkers, prospects, and connections."
Hubspot offers some less-annoying "Let's touch base" alternatives that are far straightforward and simple:
- I'll call you at (date and time)
- Can we meet for (X minutes) sometime (this week, month, etc.)?
- Let's meet again in a (day, week, month, etc.)
- Let's share our progress…
- Let's catch up…
- Please call me…
- Please send me an update/ I'll send you an update…
See, it's easy to "touch base" without having to strike out in your conversation.
Some other doozies?...
- "I Don't Have the Bandwidth" – "Something business people say to describe the resources needed to complete a task or project," as defined byUrban Dictionary.
- "Where's the Value-Add?" – "Term used in service and retail industries, meaning to connect a service or additional product to a product at no immediate cost to the buyer. This cost is often included (read: hidden) in the base price, but is called out to make the customer feel as though they are getting more than they paid for," as per Urban Dictionary.
- "Let's Circle Back" – "Connecting with folks on a business issue and letting things happen, then going back to them after a few days or after things evolve," as defined by Net Lingo.
- "Think Outside the Box" - "To think imaginatively using new ideas instead of traditional or expected ideas," as perCambridge Dictionary.
- "It's in the Pipeline" – As defined by The Free Dictionary by Farlex, "In progress or about to be started or implemented."
- "Low-Hanging Fruit" – "A thing or person that can be won, obtained, or persuaded with little effort," as defined by English Oxford Living Dictionaries.
Reboot your workplace vocab and rid yourself of those phrases and jargon that are getting under everyone's skin. "To-the-point" is always better than "What's the point?"
Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmedwww.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight:
Pack your bags — Southwest Airlines is having a major sale! Fares are as low as $59 one-way if you book by October 3rd.
This end-of-summer super sale is a game-changer for your travel plans through the end of the year. Summertime travel gets all the glory. But why not take advantage of your long weekends, holidays, and PTO this fall. You’ll be surprised at how much travel you can fit in. Keep the fall/winter season exciting with domestic trips that give you all the excitement without breaking the bank. All thanks to Southwest.
Here’s the breakdown:
Where can you go?
You’ll find discounted tickets to and from most airports. Sale fares apply to cross country travel, and even Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean! Whether you’re visiting a new city or revisiting your last beach vacation, this sale has fares to make your travel dreams come true.
What do the fares cover?
Southwest Airlines has multiple fare tiers, each with various benefits. Wanna Get Away fares start at $59, while Wanna Get Away Plus fares start at $89. You can also find great deals on Anytime fares, which offer priority boarding and express lanes. Then there’s Business Select tickets for a luxe experience at an affordable price point.
Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member?
You may think these sale fares are too good to be true. Is there a catch? Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member to access them? You’re in luck — anyone can attain these fares for a limited time.
But, insider tip, you should consider signing up for Southwest Rapid Rewards. With a free sign up, you earn points and miles with each trip you take. And with this sale, each dollar you spend on these discounted tix can stretch super far until you eventually earn free travel. The only thing better than a sale is free stuff.
I’ve been browsing the Southwest Airlines site, checking out flights and dreaming.