Your browser version is no longer supported, so you may experience issues while using this site.
Please upgrade to a current browser to enjoy the best experience.


Ten buzzwords we should stop saying around the office

06 June 2016

Why do we walk into work on a Monday morning and leave the plain-English-speaking part of our brain outside in the street?

Nearly all of us are guilty of using business jargon around the office, even if we don’t realise we’re doing it. But if we want to make sure we stay connected to our customers and important stakeholders, sometimes it’s essential to be able to separate from those buzzwords and, you know, speak like regular humans.

Here are the ten worst offenders that we need to put a stop to around the office, once and for all.

1. Take it offline

Originating in the early days of teleconferencing when being ‘on line’ sounded new and exciting (i.e. in about 1955), to take something offline simply means to talk about it later – or more likely never again.

2. Synergy

This might sound like a word dreamt up by David Brent from The Office, but it is, in fact, a real word used around the non-sitcom office. It means to generate extra energy by combining things, although ironically the word often has the opposite effect on anyone who hears it.

3. In the [...] space

Unless you’re employed by NASA, the word ‘space’ is used around the workplace merely as an unnecessary substitute for the name of a topic or category. For example, ‘Can you give us a heads-up on what’s happening in the online space?’ simply means ‘What has the digital team been up to this week?’

4. Deep dive

Disappointingly, this phrase has nothing to do with marine exploration but simply means to go into detail about something. However, context is everything and a gifted practitioner can give the phrase a shot of oxygen with lines like “Great insight, Tiffany – but let’s take that offline before we do some deep dives into that space.”

5. Going forward

This one has become so ubiquitous in the workplace that it now sounds vaguely intelligent until you regain your faculties and remember that all it means is from now on, or in the future. It was probably coined by some business ‘guru’ to imply that a company isn’t going backwards, but tends to have the opposite effect when used in statements like ‘going forward the organisation is facing strong headwinds and will need to rigorously review its cost base’.

6. Align

The ceaseless quest for alignment is the lifeblood of the modern corporation. Virtually anything can be aligned: teams, projects, customers, budgets, biscuits. If done very skilfully, an alignment might even generate synergies going forward.

7. In the loop

Although a bit of a tired adage these days, ‘in the loop’ certainly still does its rounds around the office. And being such a fun phrase, who hasn’t thrown out a sneaky “I’ll keep you in the loop, Janet!” in their time.

8. Granular

This word was rarely used outside the scientific arena before it was talent-spotted by the corporate world and made famous. Now it’s all, “this seems like a great plan, but how does it look on a granular level?”

9. Reach out

‘Reach out, I’ll be there’ crooned The Four Tops in 1967. Fast forward forty-eight years and the expression ‘reach out’ has itself rocketed to stardom by shouldering its way into the corporate lexicon.  

10. Circle back

The third-grade cousin of premier league superstar ‘going forward’, ‘circle back’ can nonetheless hold its own against any other buzzword on this list. The phrase makes absolutely no sense and simply means to return to something later.

Not everything in the business world has to be so confusing though. Like Suncorp’s business banking solutions, for example.

Learn More About Suncorp’s Business Banking

Read more:

Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product.