Raymond Doherty and Danny McCance 20 Jul 2017 04:35pm

The worst of management speak

This week a report revealed that UK employees and customers are sick of their business leaders using corporate jargon. At the end of the day they don’t want to touch base and discuss deliverables within the strategic staircase. They want people to, you know, speak English. So here’s a quick guide on what not to say

Caption: David Brent, was a master of office jargon. Or an "anecdotalist"

Let’s circle back – A replacement for the far more sensible “let’s talk about this later”. Similar to “taking it offline”. For more circle-based nonsense, see “square the circle”.

Action – A verb, apparently. To put something into practice. To begin a task. For example, “Park it in the mental multi-storey for a week or so before you action it.”

Sunset – No longer a mere noun, it has been hijacked by the corporate linguists and used as a verb, meaning, to end something. To be fair “let’s sunset your project” does have a nicer ring to it than “let’s put your project in the trash where it belongs”.

Run it up the flagpole – Or to give it its full airing, “let's run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it”. Or you could just present an idea and see whether anyone likes it.

The cone of silence – To be honest I don’t quite believe this phrase has been uttered in real life, but people claim it has, so it’s included. It essentially means that a conversation is private. “We can discuss a pay rise but I insist you wear the cone of silence.”

Let’s park that – What better way to say “let’s forget this for now” than by using a strained driving analogy. Presumably to extend the analogy further, you could try to introduce “let’s reverse that”, or, in other words, “we will forget that idea was ever mentioned”.

Reach out – “I’m going to reach out to my connection in the US.” What the individual using this term means is actually “I’m going to speak to someone I know and ask for their help”.

Open the kimono – This strange, and somewhat unsavoury, alternative to express that someone is being transparent or accurately relaying a fact really has no place in any professional environment.

Onboard – A verb. This nonsensical term simply means to involve a new employee/client/whoever in your new idea/position/whatever.

At the coalface – A phrase that, despite its ridiculousness, I still have a soft spot for. Put simply, this implies engaging in more practical and less theoretical aspects of business.

This is just a taste of what’s out there in the wide world of management cobblers. We want to hear from you. Let us know what you’ve faced first-hand in meetings or any personal favourite/most-hated phrases.

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