Most annoying business phrase?

I struck a nerve.

I was in a planning meeting recently (and if my Twitter cloud is any indication, I do that a lot) and we were talking a lot about different years in project roadmaps. FY08, FY09, FY10. With my bastardized version of pronunciation, you’d say “eff why oh eight” or “eff why oh nine”. But, despite the existence of a digit in the tens place, people have taken to calling the last one “eff why oh ten”.

This annoyed me.

It annoyed me to the point that I started to brainstorm the most annoying business phrases I could think of for my own amusement. Then I realized, that’s a great question to ask people over at LinkedIn Answers. Was it ever. Over 90 people responded to my question Most annoying business phrase?

All of them were good, most of the ones I marked as such appear below, but Bruce Mendelsohn had my favorite:

Your email really “lit a fire under me” to “think outside the box.” I am really “pumped” that “going forward” we’ll be able to “pick the low-hanging fruit.” “At the end of the day” I’m convinced we’ll all “be reading from the same sheet of music.”

Here are other good ones, too many of which I’m ashamed to admit I’ve used before. Enjoy.

Andrew Baker

How about “let’s take these key learnings…”

John Gossett

“Outside the box.”

Gary Pearson

Low hanging fruit

Going forward

Jason Atwood

1. Win – Win Situation
2. Lets take this offline or Lets put this in the parking lot for now.
3. No you can’t have a raise…

Barry Callen

“Solutions Provider.” In my opinion every business is in the business of solving their customers’ problems. This is news?

Sean McCloskey

It is what it is.

Jo Booth

Let’s kick some goals…
Client engagement…
Stay in lockstep….
That’s not for this meeting…Stay on topic
What are the stats on that…
Piece of work…
I don’t use landlines…
I haven’t got to my email…
High level – what’s involved…
Can you put that in email for me…
Let’s keep this high level…
We need a pack on that…
I’m too busy..
That’s not a priority right now…
I’m under the hammer right now…
How can we monteize this…
What a wanker…

Anmol agarwal

Even my six year kid can do that better….

Andrea Gaddie

“Heads Up” has to be the worst. “I just wanted to give you a heads up”, really means, “I just wanted to tell you something annoying that you really don’t care about anyway but I’m still going to tell you so that you feel stupid because you didn’t find out first…”

Rashmi Abhyankar

“I will get back to you shortly” (real meaning:I would never want to answer that question, hence will postpone it endlessly)

“lets take this up offline” (real meaning: just shut up for now)

Claudia Kuehl

“we’re really (so) excited to get this in front of you today”

“we going to lean into it and blow it out”

Benoît Hébert

“Let’s put a stake in the ground and move forward.”
Aaaaaarrrgghhhh. Heard too many times…

Julie Haddon

1) “Aggregate” anything (most overused word in business today)
2) “Sweet spot” and “Low Hanging Fruit” (are playing Candyland?)
3) “Deep dive” (belongs in the Barrier Reef, not business!)

Seamus Fitzpatrick

“Let’s “unpack” this…”

“At the same point in time…”

“Let’s make this the exception, not the norm”

“Company policy is…”

Greg Mitchell

I cringe when I hear “let’s touch base” or “just touching base”.

Even worse: “blue sky thinking”.

Michael Krepsik

“utilizing team synergy”
“paradigm shift”
“bread and butter”
“Customer is King” (Yes, this IS true, but the customer is not always right. This is especially annoying when this phrase is used to justify doing something at a client request)

Allan Tear

My personal annoyance at the moment is the rapid spread of “reaching out”. As in “I’m just reaching out…”, “we have to reach out…”. Especially when combined with “touching base”.

My all-time teeth-grinders are when buzzwords are also mangled.

“Mute point” instead of “Moot point”. I wish it were a mute point, then I wouldn’t have to hear about it !

“Flush out these ideas” instead of “flesh out”. Maybe this is a Freudian slip by the speaker, as the ideas may only be worthy of flushing…

Andrew Knapp

I cannot stand:

“bread and butter” We are not at lunch, this is business…

“what I can tell you is this” Obviously or we would not be talking…

“can I ask you a question?” Sounds like you just did…

Chris Carpinello

Referring to people as “resources”.

Kevin Robinson

The phrase “Game Changing” is quickly moving to the top of my list, particularly when the individual is referring to some simple incremental improvement.

Susan Hardin

“ping me”



4 Responses to “Most annoying business phrase?”

  1. MN Headhunter/Paul DeBettignies Says:

    I despise, no in fact I hate, any form of “taking it to the next level”.

  2. Tom Hunter Says:

    Let’s engineer-up!

  3. Kathryn Hall Says:

    “skin the cat” as in “there are a few ways to skin the cat” – that’s just gross.

  4. lucidTipster Says:

    This is funny … I read this blog entry in the morning and then was on a conference call during the afternoon where the phrase “on the same music sheet” was used 10 times in a span of 15 minutes!!! For someone who was not born and brought up in US of A it has always been a challenge to figure out what these different phrases mean. What is “Lets put that on the parking lot” … why can’t we just say “add it to the issue list”.


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