10 management-speak phrases we love to hate

Business meeting
By Isabelle Bell, CA Today

6 November 2015

Management speak is an inevitable (and often irritating) part of daily business life. If you’re sick of hearing about blue sky thinking, circling back and going forward, then read on for our top 10 office euphemisms.

1. Touching base

A recent study found that “touching base” is one of the most overused pieces of office jargon. It means you want to make contact with someone or meet up, as in: “I just wanted to touch base with you so we can discuss that proposal."

2. Look under the bonnet

This example of office speak is used to communicate the need to uncover facts or find out more information. Used in sentences such as, “It could be a great funding opportunity, so let’s look under the bonnet and see what we discover”. It’s a close cousin of: “We need to peel back the onion."

3. Don’t let the grass grow too long

Used to politely tell people to work faster, get on with things, or take advantage of an opportunity. An example might be: “We’d better not let the grass too long on that project.”

4. Low hanging fruit

Meaning to take the easy or ‘quick wins’ at work. “Grabbing the low hanging fruit” is about doing the simple stuff first. While this can be all well and good, it’s important not to forget about the more complicated things, too.

5. Idea shower

The new term for having a brainstorming session and sharing ideas, but it is likely to get a few raised eyebrows if actually used in your morning catch-up.

6. Eating your own dogfood

Office speak that means to try something out that you have made yourself, such as using your own product to test it before you sell it. “We should be eating our own dogfood before we launch in September.”

7. Solutionise

‘Solutionise’ is business-speak for solving problems, as in: “Let’s solutionise this problem over lunch.” Although it is a word, it actually refers to the heating of metal to form a homogeneous solid solution. We recommend you substitute this jargon for the perfectly adequate word “solve”.

8. Give it to me in big handfuls

Used to ask for a high-level summary of information, rather than the details, as in: “I don’t need to know the specifics, just give it to me in big handfuls.”

9. Paradigm shift

An overused phrase used to describe a change in business operations, such as: “Our business is going through a paradigm shift.” A word of caution with this one, as it has the potential to sound like you don’t really know what’s going on or what the future holds for your business.

10. Run it up the flagpole

This one means to try something out and see what the result is. As in, “Why don’t you run it up the flagpole and see what happens?” Similar to this lovely example of office jargon: “Put a record on and see who dances.”

Share your own

We would love to hear your own examples of office jargon. Tweet us at @ICASaccounting.


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