10 Most Annoying Office Phrases

Let's think outside the box and kick these awful phrases into the long grass. 

Do you work hard and play hard? Do you function well on your own and as part of a team? Then hang your head in shame. Here are 10 other business buzz phrases that will make any normal person want to "touch base" with a smack to someone's face.


Think outside the box

First of all, there is no box. Second of all, shut up and get out. "Think outside the box" is perhaps the ultimate bit of buzz-speak, the king of cringey catchphrases beloved of real-life David Brents across the nation. And let's face it: if they really WERE thinking outside the box, they wouldn't trot out the phrase "think outside the box".


Action it

If you're an armed police officer, a soldier in a war zone, or an Hollywood filmmaker, then maybe – just maybe – you can get away with using the phrase "action it". If you're none of these things, and spend much of your day clicking through PowerPoint presentations and online cat galleries, then a simple "do it" will suffice. Thank you.


Close of play

This is a cunning phrase designed to trick us into thinking we're kids messing around in primary school rather than bored adults relying on caffeine and communal biscuits to get through the afternoon. Sadly, close of play has become so ingrained in business culture that it even has its own acronym, COP. Which is ironic because anyone who uses the phrase should really be arrested. 


At this moment in time

"At this moment in time" isn't just a pointlessly long-winded way of saying "now". It's also a tactful way for your boss to shoot down your suggestion and duck any issues you might bring up. You want a raise, do you? "Not at this moment in time." Think your team could do with restructuring? "Not at this moment in time". Reckon your boss should take a long walk off a short ledge? "Not at this moment in time."


Touch base

Did you know the phrase "touch base" comes from baseball? That's right: one of the most irritatingly over-used phrases in offices across the UK stems from a sport nobody in this country watches, on the very good grounds that it's basically a jumped-up version of rounders. Also, why does your colleague insist on "touching base" when they can just "talk" or "catch up" instead? Oh, no reason, except they're an idiot. 


Kick into the long grass

While the phrase to "kick into the long grass" is completely annoying, we don't mind this one so much because it basically means your boss is expressly telling you to slack off from doing something. And that's always a good thing.


Core competencies

Another example of how people in business feel too embarrassed to use actual, human phrases for fear of not looking dynamic or cutting edge. So instead of "skills", we now have "core competencies" – the two most important being the ability to remember how everyone in your team takes their tea, and being able to stop yourself from swearing out loud whenever someone uses a phrase like "core competencies".



Now here's an insidious example of how even single words have been turned into cringey buzz-terms. To "leverage" something just means to use it, but "use" apparently sounds all old-fashioned and boring, while "leverage" sounds new and sexy and proactive. Speaking of which, don't even get us started on "proactive"… 


Drill down

If you're particularly luckless, you've heard someone ask you to "drill down into the details". Which certainly sounds like it'll be more exciting than being asked to "look into the details". But guess what: it isn't. 


It's on my radar 

There's precisely one context, and one context only, in which saying "it's on my radar" won't make you a prime candidate for a smack. And that's if you're a radar operator. Are you or are you not a radar operator? Well just say "I know", then. Sheesh. 


Do your colleagues bamboozle you with even more bizarre buzz-words? Let us know your most cringeworthy office phrases in the comments below.