11 January 2024

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can’t Stand

By Ronald Smith

If you’ve spent enough time in the corporate world, you know that people love to use fancy words to sound smart. But let’s be honest: most of them are just annoying. They’re like a secret language that only insiders understand, and it can make you feel left out or confused.

Recently, I came across a list of office jargon that the British find particularly irritating. And you know what? I couldn’t agree more. So, let’s break down these annoying phrases and add a few of my personal favorites to the mix.

“Touch Base”

Definition: To meet in person and talk about something specific.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

If you want to get in touch with someone, whether it’s an individual or a company, or if you have a proposal to make, the first thing you need to do is contact the right people.

Depending on who these people are, reaching out to them can either be easy or very difficult.

Let’s Think Outside the Box

Definition: Coming up with new and creative ideas that go beyond what is usual and expected.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

Even if you’ve never heard this exact phrase before, you probably know what it means. We often hear it during the brainstorming part of a project, when the project leaders say that they’re willing to try anything and everything. But when it comes to actually doing it, these crazy ideas hit a roadblock because there are always limitations that weren’t mentioned during brainstorming. So all the hard work ends up being pointless.

“We’re on a journey”

Definition: The team, company, or project hasn’t achieved its goal yet.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase countless times before. It’s often thrown around in startup circles, where we all know that reaching our goals isn’t an easy task. It takes dedication and patience from each and every one of us to ensure our company reaches its targets.

The problem is, this phrase can become overused by managers and team leaders. It starts to feel like they’re just dangling a carrot in front of a horse, teasing us with endless journeys that lead to nowhere. And trust me, if your employees feel like they’re going nowhere, they won’t stick around for long.

“Game changer”

Definition: An idea or product that will make people think differently.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

Let’s face it, we all know what the phrase “game changer” means. It’s a saying that’s been used by companies, both old and new.

But here’s the thing: while some companies have truly revolutionized the game, the truth is that most others aren’t really changing much. At best, they’re just making small improvements to existing ideas or coming up with solutions that no one really asked for or needed.


Definition: Something that is so easy, it requires little or no mental effort.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

If you’ve ever wanted to sound like you think you’re smarter than everyone else, there’s a phrase that’s just right for you: “no-brainer.” When you use this phrase, you’re basically saying, “I just had this amazing idea, and it’s so obvious that I can’t believe no one else thought of it.”

But let me tell you something. Life isn’t always as simple as we think. The ideas we come up with might not be as easy to put into action as we believe. And it definitely doesn’t help if we start acting superior and looking down on others when they try to explain why our supposedly brilliant ideas aren’t really that brilliant after all.

Let’s talk about “thought shower.”

Definition: Sharing ideas without considering the practical limitations.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

When it comes to brainstorming ideas for a project, it’s important to consider the practical limitations. If I ignore these limitations and come up with ideas that aren’t feasible, I’ll just waste time during the planning stages. That’s why the phrase “thought shower” can be frustrating, as it can lead to unnecessary downtime.

“Run it up the flagpole”

Definition: To present an idea and see if it gets a favorable reaction.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

I have to admit, the phrase “run it up the flagpole” has become quite a laughingstock. People even came up with alternative versions like “let’s drop it in the pool and see if it makes a splash.” Can you believe that?

But here’s the thing, when you hear this phrase being used seriously in the office over and over again, it’s like a big flashing sign that says the company has absolutely no clear direction. I mean, they don’t know where they want to go or what they want to achieve. It’s pretty baffling, isn’t it?

Now, here’s another gem: “If you don’t like it, get off the bus.”

Let me break it down for you: Definition: If you’re not happy with how things are going, it might be time to leave the company. Yep, that’s what it means.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

Let’s talk about a phrase that can really get under your skin: “if you don’t like it, get off the bus.” It’s a straightforward statement, but it’s also pretty harsh.

Here’s the deal: if you’re an employee and you’re not happy with your company, instead of trying to work things out with your bosses, this phrase is basically telling you to quit and find a better place to work.

Now, what exactly is a “mission statement”?

Well, it’s a formal summary of what a company, organization, or even an individual is all about. It’s like a mission statement lays out their goals and values in a clear and concise way.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

When I first enter a new company, I always hear about the mission statement. It’s one of those phrases that everyone talks about. But if you’re like me and you hop from job to job a lot, it starts to lose its meaning after a while.

“Grab it and go!”

Let me break it down for you: when someone gives you a task that they couldn’t finish or figure out, you’re expected to pick it up and run with it. Yup, that’s what we mean by “pick it up and run with it.” You take the reins and do whatever it takes to make it work.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

We all dread being assigned someone else’s tasks, especially when they expect us to have all the necessary knowledge to complete them. Sadly, refusing to take on someone else’s work is not always an option, and this is what makes it incredibly frustrating to be on the receiving end.

The phrase “Punch a puppy”

Meaning: Doing something terrible for the sake of benefiting the company.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

Do you consider yourself a person of conscience? If you said yes, then this phrase is bound to make you furious.

In simple terms, “punching a puppy” is a cruder way of saying “the ends justify the means.” It’s something that very few people would willingly do. So if someone encourages you to punch a metaphorical puppy, it’s safe to say that it won’t sit well with everyone.

Let’s Get Ready

Definition: To align a team or multiple parties in preparation for an event or discussion.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

When I hear the term “let’s get our ducks in a row,” it sounds like a great idea. Who wouldn’t want a well-organized team to tackle a new project?

But when I actually start preparing multiple parties for a upcoming task, I quickly realize that executing this plan is much harder than it sounds.

An “open door policy”

Here’s what it means: when the higher-ups in a company encourage open communication between employees.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

This is a term I really like. Maybe you have a boss who says they want to encourage honesty and openness in the company by being “open to feedback and criticism.” Some bosses really take this idea to heart, but there are also some who don’t practice what they preach.

If you happen to encounter one of these bosses, the best-case scenario is that they simply ignore your comments and ideas. But the worst-case scenario? Well, let’s just say there are bosses out there who can be pretty mean.

Now, let’s talk about the word “revert.”

Definition: To reply or respond to someone.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

When I hear the word “revert,” it can send shivers down my spine. It’s one of those words that makes you wonder what major changes are about to happen in the project you’re working on. It’s like hitting the reset button and going back to square one.

But what about when you never hear the word “revert”? Does that mean the client has forgotten about you? You start jumping to conclusions, thinking maybe they’re too busy with something else. And then, boom! Out of nowhere, they hit you with a bunch of feedback that needs to be implemented right away. Suddenly, you’re stuck working late into the night to meet their demands.

“Back to the drawing board”

So what does this phrase really mean? Well, it’s like starting over. Imagine you have a drawing that you’ve been working on for hours, only to realize that it’s not quite right. You crumple it up and go back to a clean sheet of paper. That’s what “back to the drawing board” means – starting from scratch.

15 Office Jargons You Keep Hearing and Can't Stand

Oh boy, here we go again. The phrase “go back to the drawing board” is enough to strike fear into the hearts of us all. It basically means that all the hard work we’ve put in so far has gone down the drain, and now we have to start over from scratch. Fun times, huh?

“In other words”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This may sound like great news for someone who’s just starting out in their career. But for us seasoned professionals, we know that these words often have a not-so-great meaning behind them.

But here’s the thing: no matter which fancy words we use, working in an office shouldn’t be a cringe-worthy experience. Can I get an amen?