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58 awful corporate jargon phrases you can't escape

Business jargon runs rampant in the workplace. Here's a guide to deciphering the lingo.

In the course of a day, you may be asked to do a brain dump, whiteboard a go-to-market strategy and have a one-on-one with your manager where you talk about being in the weeds because you're herding cats.

Confused? You're not alone.

Idioms have long been a part of the English language, but people are often afraid to ask what a phrase means for fear of having egg on their face -- that means looking foolish. Now is the time to update that vocabulary with some corporate jargon to keep up with company culture.

Business buzzwords and phrases

Here are 58 words and phrases that have become part of corporate lingo:

  1. Above my paygrade. Outside the scope of your responsibility and/or needs to be addressed by someone higher up.
  2. Action item. A task that needs to be completed. Workers may frequently come away from meetings with a list of action items that need to happen in a set time frame.
  3. Back burner. A task or responsibility that you will revisit at a later date.
  4. Bandwidth. Related to workload and the ability and/or time to address a situation. "I don't have the bandwidth to complete that task."
  5. Brain dump. Taking all of the thoughts in your head and putting them on paper.
  6. Break down silos. Removing barriers between teams and/or departments to improve efficiency.
  7. Bring it to the table. Used in HR circles to describe what skills and experience a job candidate can provide to a company.
  8. Buy-in. Persuading employees and other stakeholders to willingly accept and support something, such as a new business plan or policy.
  9. Churn. Also known as churn rate, the number of employees or customers who leave a business in a given time frame.
  10. Clock watcher. An employee who continually looks at the time waiting for the workday to be over.
  11. Core competencies. An organization's or person's strengths, including skills, knowledge and capabilities.
  12. Deep dive. A thorough analysis of something.
  13. Deliverable. An item that must be produced at the end of a project.
  14. Drill down. Analyzing something more in depth.
  15. Drink the Kool-Aid. Blindly believe in and follow questionable principles or ideas.
  16. Ducks in a row. Organizing everything, getting it under control.
  17. Dumpster fire. A catastrophically bad situation.
  18. Fire drill. An unexpected event or task that needs to be done quickly.
  19. Flesh out. Providing more information about something.
  20. Game changer. A newly introduced element that significantly affects an existing situation.
  21. Go to market. Often referring to a go-to-market strategy , this spells out how a company delivers products and services to customers.
  22. Hard stop. A specific end time for something because you have something scheduled immediately behind it.
  23. Herding cats. A negative phrase used by managers to describe a team that is difficult to deal with.
  24. Hot desking. Sharing desks in an office that aren't assigned to anyone. Desks are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  25. In the weeds. Overwhelmed by work.
  26. Let's circle back on that. To suggest talking about something again later.
  27. Let's take this offline. To suggest discussing something in private.
  28. Low-hanging fruit. Low-effort tasks with high-yield results.
  29. Make hay. Taking advantage of an opportunity.
  30. Micromanager. A boss who excessively observes and controls team members.
  31. Move the goal posts. Changing the rules to gain an advantage for yourself and make it more difficult for others.
  32. Move the needle. Making a noticeable change.
  33. Office drone. A white-collar worker who does the same mundane tasks from day to day.
  34. One-on-one. A regularly scheduled meeting or check-in between two people -- usually, a manager and employee.
  35. Pain point. Problem business customers and employees face.
  36. Per my last email. A polite way of telling someone you've already addressed their question in a previous email.
  37. Ping. Sound heard when a message or text is received on a computer or phone.
  38. Pivot. In the business world, changing direction when something is not working.
  39. Punt. Delay or postpone, such as moving a meeting to another day.
  40. Put a pin in it. Putting something on hold, intending to come back to it later.
  41. Put out a fire. Addressing an expected problem.
  42. Reinvent the wheel. Recreating something that already exists, often unnecessarily.
  43. Run it up the flagpole. Testing the popularity of a new idea or proposal.
  44. Run the numbers. Performing numerical calculations -- often used in accounting and other financial departments.
  45. Sidebar. An unplanned discussion -- often off-topic -- during a meeting.
  46. Slide deck. A slideshow presentation -- usually refers to a PowerPoint presentation.
  47. Stand-up. A brief daily meeting to discuss goals and plans for the day.
  48. Think outside the box. Pondering or brainstorming unusual and off-the-beaten-path ideas.
  49. Throw under the bus. Blaming someone else to avoid negative consequences or gain an advantage.
  50. Top-down. A management approach where business leaders make companywide decisions that then filter down to the employees.
  51. Touch base. Talking to someone quickly for an update on something.
  52. Touchpoint. An interaction between a business and its customers.
  53. Trim the fat. When a business reduces unnecessary expenditures to save money.
  54. Voluntold. A play on volunteer and told, being told to volunteer.
  55. Watercooler. A type of conversation where employees take a break to socialize with one another. Previously, it would take place next to the watercooler.
  56. Wheelhouse. Area of expertise.
  57. Whiteboarding. The process of brainstorming using a physical or virtual whiteboard.
  58. You're crushing it. Doing something extremely well and/or exceeding goals.

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