Top 10 Most Annoying Business Jargon Phrases

If you’ve been in business long enough, you’ve heard catchphrases like “think outside the box,” “low-hanging fruit,” and “bandwidth,” to name a few. Often referred to as buzzwords, corporate jargon, or business chatter, it’s an all-too-common form of business communication in the workplace. Unfortunately, some phrases are overused to the point of making most office workers cringe. In a recent survey by the Preply e-learning platform, one in five respondents admitted to not liking corporate language. Despite this, three-quarters say they have used business buzzwords to sound more professional, with men (76%) more likely to use them than women (66%).

The downsides of corporate jargon

Although they serve a purpose, there is a downside to business buzzwords. According to research at Colombia Business School, corporate jargon can often be a barrier to clear communication. And if you’re not a native English speaker, they can be downright confusing. One in five respondents even sees corporate jargon in a job description as a warning sign and have delayed applying for a job because of it.

Top 10 Most Hated Business Jargon Phrases

Wondering which phrases might be the most problematic? Here are the ten most annoying business buzzwords according to Preply’s research:

  1. new normal
  2. Culture (e.g. “Company Culture”)
  3. return circle
  4. Ground Boots
  5. Give 110%
  6. Ripe fruit
  7. win-win
  8. move the needle
  9. Growth hack
  10. Get off the beaten track

In the survey results, 43% of respondents found the term “new normal” irritating, likely due to its association with the pandemic. The same percentage felt annoyed by the term “culture,” given that the term is overused by employers trying to attract workers to the office. “Boots on the pitch” was also unpopular with 42% of those polled. Finally, 41% were put off when asked to “give 110%” – a request that seems unrealistic – especially with the current burnout epidemic.

Ways to Avoid Boring Buzzwords

While it has its uses, if you’re concerned about the potential negative effects of corporate jargon on your organization, here are some ways to stop the madness:

  • Don’t feel obligated to use certain words or phrases because others do.
  • Make a list of the most commonly used buzzwords and post it near your computer to remind you to avoid them.
  • Consider more specific and descriptive alternative phrases.
  • Focus on one narrative approach to illustrate points and convey authenticity.
  • Perform your work by third parties and non-native speakers to ensure it is clear and succinct.

Clearer language not only improves productivity and understanding. It builds trust. By eliminating corporate jargon from your vocabulary (at least to some extent), you’ll become a better communicator and present a more compelling case to your audience.


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