Everyone reading this has heard all of these buzzwords at some point in their career.

It’s time to get rid of them for good. Don’t agree? Let’s circle back next week and touch base.

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Think Outside The Box

“If everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing” – Malcolm Gladwell

This expression has become so overused that it’s lost all of its meaning.

What it means is to think creatively, so just say that.

Let’s think outside the box of a new way to say what we’re really trying to say.


Ah, Synergy. A senior executive’s second favorite word (right after bonus).

Using the term makes you sound super smart, but what you’re really trying to say is the word “team work”.

Let’s stop using all these fancy words that make us appear smarter and just say what we really want to say.

“Our new team will work well together.” Simple, right?

Take It Offline

I never quite understood this one, is the conversation we’re having right now online? What is offline?

What I think you’re trying to say is “let’s discuss this at a later time.”

Where I believe the expression originated from was during conference calls, instead of tying everyone up on the line (online?) we can continue the discussion later, while not wasting anyone’s time, off the line (offline).

Let’s Circle Back

Whenever I do an impression of a big corporate executive I always end up using this term somewhere in my monologue.

“Let’s go ahead and circle back next week to see if Jon’s team has any new information.”

It’s more of a polite way of saying you don’t have an answer to something.

Jason: Do you think we should go with choice A or B?
Tom: Great question, let’s circle back next week
Jason: What?

Move The Needle

The only time I see this phrase being relevant is if you’re talking about an actual needle like on an odometer or some other measuring instrument.

What you’re really trying to say is “make a measurable difference” in some business metric.

Instead of using this vague term, why not be more specific and say something like “let’s increase visits to the website by 12% this quarter.”

Saying what you really want in clear terms will help employees understand what their true goals are.

Bite The Bullet

This is a corporate buzzword meaning “suck it up.”

What’s interesting is where this expression comes from. During the US Civil War, injured soldiers would literally bite a bullet during surgery to distract them from the pain.

Again, instead of using a vague term that is meaningless, say what you’re trying to say in clearer terms.

Touch Base

Why not simply say “let’s talk again next week”?

Do people think they sound cool when they use a word like “touch base”?

The expression originally comes from the rule in baseball where a runner must touch the base they’re currently on before running to the next base.

In the business world, it means before taking an important action, you must “touch base” to get approval of that action.

Hard Stop

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this on a conference call.

There’s an hour conference call, someone shows up 20 minutes late and says they have a “hard stop” in 20. Thanks?!

Has anyone ever said they have a soft stop in 20? I have yet to hear that one.

Just say “I have to go in 20 minutes, I have another meeting.” So much simpler.

Skin In The Game

I have a very gross image when I hear this expression.

It means to be invested in something, but passion comes from within.

It takes much more than “skin in the game” to believe in a company’s mission and work hard to achieve goals.

Drinking The Kool-Aid

This is an incredibly offensive expression and any leader that uses it should be ashamed of themselves.

It’s a reference to the 1978 cult mass-suicide in Jonestown.

Jim Jones, the leader of the group, convinced his followers to commit suicide by drinking Kool-Aid laced with potassium cyanide. This is known as the Jonestown Massacre where over 900 people died.

From there, the expression became “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid,” which meant to trust anyone right away or not to believe something so strongly.

It can also be used in the opposite sense to mean that someone has embraced a philosophy or idea.

Please remove this from your vocabulary immediately.

What Buzzwords Get On Your Nerves?

Any corporate buzzwords that you find annoying? Share them with us in the comments!