Every profession has its own particular jargon. In the military, it's cumbersome, technical and oddly evasive: a smoke bomb is a "kinetically deployed obfuscatory visual-hindrance system."
In medicine, the jargon is full of Latin words and euphemisms, like "profuse rhinitis." (That means a runny nose.) Office workers do not have their own jargon, but they have jargon inflicted upon them. A new survey from statista.com has ranked the buzzwords and phrases office workers hate the most.
Here are some of the terms, in no particular order.
• Touch base. This one is borrowed from baseball. If it was meant literally, the boss would slide into your cubicle spikes first before you called them out.
• Teamwork. An interesting choice for "hated jargon" in a shared work environment. It's like a guy at the marriage counselor saying, "She always talks about partnership, and I hate that."
What the boss means: "You're not yet late on that thing I asked you to do, but we both know you're probably going to be late, so I'm just asking about it so we can have a conversation where we pretend you're not habitually late."
What the employee hears: "Blah blah blah deadline blah just wanted to nag you blah blah."
• Raising the bar. This probably comes from the pole vault at track-and-field events. When the bar is raised, everyone has to accomplish more than they did before. Some employees might believe the term is borrowed from the limbo dance, and that means they do not have to lean over backward as much as they did before.
• Think outside the box. What bosses mean: "Let's not be stuck in the old ways of doing things!" What employees hear: "Think inside a box that is larger than the other box, but is still a box, because if you really want us to think outside the box we'll say things like, 'Use magical cats to make stacks of gold appear,' which is certainly extra-box cogitation."
• Work harder. I wouldn't exactly call this jargon, would you? But it's understandable why some employees would hate to hear it, because it implies an open-ended scale in which you work harder and harder until your work has the density of a neutron star's core.
• Empower. There's nothing wrong with the word, unless the boss says it all the time about everything. "Empower the projector, and someone disempower the lights. Oh, shoot, my phone battery is low; anyone have an empowerer cord?"
• Keep up the good work. I can't imagine anyone not wanting to hear this, unless it's said sarcastically after you hit the wrong button on the copier and 500 sheets were printed entirely black, exhausting the entire month's toner budget.
• At the end of the day. What bosses mean: "When all is said and done, none of the strife and difficulties we have shared will matter as much as what we have accomplished together."
What employees think: "At the end of the day, I hope to be heavy-lidded at the end of a five-hour Netflix binge."
No. 1 most-hated office jargon?
It's an awful word. It sounds like something generated by an orgy. It's a combination of synthesis and energy. Unlike actual energy, which can be measured in joules or watts, synergy cannot be quantified, so no one can be written up for being insufficiently synergistic.
The reason it's hated: It suggests that your boss read a lot of business books written by professional motivators who have big white teeth and hair held in place with industrial shellac.
This list was probably compiled when people had a memory of going to the office. Back in the misty, gauzy days when people gathered in a building and interacted on a regular basis, doing those now-dangerous things like "talking" and "touching doorknobs."
If we don't go back to the office, will we still have jargon? Or will the next list of hated workplace phrases consist of the following:
"You're on mute."
"You're breaking up."
"You've mistakenly enabled a filter that replaces your head with a cat."
"Bob, you might want to close some of those browser tabs now that you're sharing your screen."
Perhaps some managers will be so frustrated by Zoom calls that they'll pack as much jargon into a sentence as possible. "Bob, when the bar was raised you didn't work outside the synergistic box where the base you were supposed to touch was kept. You're fired."
Odd how those timeless words didn't make the list.
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