Overused Office Buzzwords: The List Grows

I recently wrote an article about the most annoying and overused terms in the workplace, and readers have been commenting with new words to add to the list.

The basis for the article was a survey by Accountemps, in which 150 senior executives identified the problem words and phrases (e.g. "leverage," "circle back"). But here's 10 more they missed, according to Yahoo! HotJobs readers:

  • Stakeholder
  • Heads up
  • Mission critical
  • Bandwidth
  • Touch base
  • In the loop
  • Low-hanging fruit
  • Moving forward
  • At the end of the day
  • On the same page


The disdain for so many of the buzzwords runs deep, and I'm surprised by the large number of offending terms. My favorite comment: "How is it that "touch base" didn't make the cut? That's an insipid office phrase that's been going around for years." (Great word — "insipid"!)

The sad thing is that I use so many of these phrases, particularly in work settings. (Except "low-hanging fruit," which has always distracted me. Maybe  because it's so descriptive?) And now I get self-conscious every time I use one of these, so I'm updating my vocabulary when possible.

But it's important to remember the perspective that Liz Bywater provided while I was researching the article:

"There's nothing inherently wrong with having a set of terms, a common lexicon, by which people in a given field or industry can easily communicate. This is essentially what business buzzwords are — a set of terms that are readily understood in the corporate environment. When used properly and in context, these buzzwords serve as a sort of linguistic shorthand. When overused or misused, however, buzzwords can overshadow or even distort the overall communication. Using too many buzzwords can lessen an individual's credibility as an independent, intelligent, creative thinker. At worst, it can make him look like a wishy-washy wannabe."

I can't resist: At the end of the day, it is what it is. But keeping everyone on the same page is always a value-add.

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