Silly At-Work Sayings

If you spend any time in or around a business environment, you can’t help but notice that they say some pretty awesome stuff.  A few of my favorites:

1.  Touch base (meaning check back in or gauge progress);

2.  Paradigm shift (meaning, loosely, a change of perspective);

3.  “Shoot me an e-mail” (meaning “send”);

4.  “Shoot me a memo” (“shoot me an e-mail’s” cousin, meaning draft up and send);

5.  Lots of moving parts (meaning it is complicated and there is a lot involved);

6.  Think outside the box (this one has been beaten to death, inside and outside the business industry.  It suggests that there is a way of thinking fundamentally different from the way that everyone else “inside the box” thinks, that this way of thinking is somehow better, and that you should therefore try to do it.  In my opinion, thinking, period, will often put you way ahead of the game.  Likewise, new and different isn’t always better.  And most importantly, if everyone  is thinking outside the box, isn’t that the new box?  Thinking outside the box seems to have gone the way of “alternative” music.  Alternative to what?);

7.  Corporate values (in the wake of Enron et al., this one has become sort of an oxymoron, and certainly nothing to aspire to);

8.  Punt (this means give up or put off on someone else or defer to someone else.  Kind of like in football.  This one kind of grates on me, I am not sure why);

9.  Take it to the next level (this one means what it seems like it means, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  At some point, you run out of “next” levels);

10.  Giving 110% (also used and abused both inside and outside the business industry.  For one thing, as a practical matter, it is impossible.  I know what people are trying to say here, but literally, there is only 100 possible %, so giving 100 out of 100 possible percent is perfect, and therefore as good as anyone could expect.  And really, when was the last time anyone gave a full 100%?  Seriously!);

11.  Run it to ground (Uh???  I have no idea);

12.  “Run it up the flagpole.”  (??????????????????????????????);

13.  “It is what it is.” (this means…absolutely nothing.  Think about it.  At the very least, it is completely irrelevant, no matter what you are talking about or how you are using it.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess to even having used this one, but not without feeling stupid).

What are your favorites?

(See Max Mallett, Brett Nelson, and Chris Steiner, “The Most Annoying, Pretentious, and Useless Business Jargon,”,–pretentious–and–useless-business-jargon).


Sometimes it's hard not to feel like this guy: "That's my stapler!"


12 thoughts on “Silly At-Work Sayings

  1. Open the Kimono – it refers to transparency. I used to work in the hedge fund industry and someone would say “we’re trying to open the kimono or keep the kimono open.” You get the idea….

    Another one that I’ve heard a ton is metrics – like “we’re trying to wrap our minds around/get a grip on the metrics of the situation.”

    Finally, can we get rid of Mission/Vision Statements? I’m staring at my laminated version right now (we’re required to have it posted in our cubicles). They’re ludicrous. I read one from a donut company once – something about “hand-forged” donuts – really?

    • The Kimono one was actually mentioned in the article I reference. I was hoping that was a joke. It creates a sort of repulsive/disturbing visual…

      “Metrics” is classic non-sense business jargon.

      Mission/Vision statements are ridiculous!!! Could not agree more.

      “Hand-forged” donuts? Oh my!

      (Thanks for your funny additions).

      • Just thought of another one: “escalate.” Once you start think of them, they’re everywhere!! Big donut fan, but was totally grossed out once when a glazed donut with cinnamon chips (so I thought) were bacon chips. Was not pleased….

  2. Well, there it is, then.

    It’s the non sequitur of the year for close to 20 years running.

    The Emperor Josef had to deal with Amadeus.

    Amadeus? Would have totally gotten behind bacon-apple-maple donuts.

  3. Run it to ground means to get all the data or details about a subject. To figure out all of the facts. Probably when electricians had to run a wire to ground or to take it all the way down. Run it to ground – take it all the way – get everything you can – get all the data, details or facts.

  4. Run it up the flagpole means to get something approved all the way to the top. Tell upper management about whats going on or what the plan is and to get their agreement or knowledge.

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