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We’re all guilty of using those meaningless, jargon-infused phrases at work, or at least we find ourselves on the receiving end of them now and again.

As we’re currently in that lull between Christmas and New Year, and probably thinking (and possibly stressing) about getting back into ‘work’ mode, we thought we’d give you a light-hearted insight into some ‘blue sky thinking’ baloney.

Most annoying buzzwords

Employer review site, Glassdoor, has been producing a list of the most annoying office phrases for the last couple of years. While the leaders seem to change, the 12-point list is usually made up of the same overused sentences.

Touch base, no brainer and game changer frequently rank top, followed by middle-weights including ‘we’re on a journey’, ‘if you don’t like it, get off the bus’ and ‘pick it up and run with it’. Some more obscure ones include ‘punch a puppy’, meaning to do something unfavourable for the long-term good, and ‘run it up the flagpole’ which is to figuratively wave around an idea to see what reaction it gets.

Blue sky thinking has, thankfully, seemed to go into hiding, while ‘lipstick on a pig’ has made an appearance the last two years – when you apparently try to improve something bad with minimal and not very effective changes.

Unavoidable ‘new’ phrases

Amongst the top 10 words of 2019 was Femtech. This refers to digital technology related to women’s health and wellbeing, which is a sector set to achieve its first billion-dollar year in 2019. However, the lack of the phrase ‘mentech’ has sparked debate over whether the word takes us a few steps back in terms of sexist divides in business.

Nanoinfluencer also made the list, and while you might not hear it in the typical office environment, you certainly will if you work in PR or talent agencies, as these ‘normal’ people who profit from sharing their private lives, or more specifically, their ‘fave’ products, may soon need management.

Sticking with the digital age theme, there are also some tech-specific phrases you won’t be able to avoid in 2020, even if you don’t work in that space. Any business that does business online will need to be aware of the mobile first concept, where software is designed for mobile users initially, followed by desktop. And if you haven’t already, you should take not of Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially if it’s likely to impact how you work or your job itself.

Now might also be the time to get to grips with the slang being used by Millennials as they enter the workplace in droves – because ‘lit’ is not about shedding light on a dark place, or more recently slang for being drunk. It’s now used to describe something that’s considered cool and exciting.


With Britain’s exit, (i.e. portmanteau ‘Brexit’ – Collins Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016), from the European Union taking a lot longer than we thought, even made-up political phrases are making their way into the office.

Even if you’re Bob – Bored of Brexit – you’ll find this Lexicon of Brexit article by The Independent very amusing. With the seemingly never-ending uncertainty that Brexit has created, there are few businesses that are suffering from some kind of Brexiety or Brexchosis!

What buzzwords and phrases will you be coining or introducing to the workplace in 2020?

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