Stupid Business Catch Phrases and Buzz Words

stupid business catch phrasesThese stupid business catch phrases and buzz words drive me up the wall. They are all either condescending, insulting, or just plain overused.

Every industry has its share of abbreviations and jargon, but some business catch phrases spread like wildfire from one organization to the next.  These annoying  buzz words are regurgitated again and again in conference rooms around the world as managers try to sound intelligent by spewing phrases they’ve heard other people use when trying to sound smart.

Some of these stupid catch phrases are fancy ways to communicate simple ideas. Some are insulting ways to hide the truth. And some will make you look foolish and rob your of your effectiveness.

Here are some of my least favorite business catch phrases and buzz words…

Think Outside the Box

What it Means:  Be Creative.

Why It’s Annoying:  The first time this phrase was used it probably sounded pretty good.  After all, someone found a creative way to communicate an old idea.  But these days it’s just a tired old phrase used by people who can’t think outside the box enough to find a more effective way to communicate.

Tear Down the Silos

What it Means: Communicate Better.

Why It’s Annoying:  When you’re trying to improve communication within your organization your best bet is to speak clearly and not use overused cliches to make your point.


What It Means:  Layoffs!

Why It’s Annoying:  Because it’s pretty damn insulting. We all know that companies are only interested in the bottom line and if they can save money by eliminating jobs or sending them overseas they’ll happily do so.  If that’s your plan, just be honest and stop trying to pretend you’re doing everyone a favor.

Take it Offline

What It Means: Let’s talk about this later.

Why It’s Annoying:  When you’re on a conference call with a lot of people and the call gets dominated by a side issue that doesn’t involve everyone on the call, the people that are involved should take it offline so they don’t waste everyone’s time.  But why not just say that??

If I’m Being Honest

What It Means:  I’m about to share my honest opinion with you.

Why It’s Annoying:  So you’re saying everything else you tell me outside of this statement me is a lie?

Can I Ask You a Question?

What It Means: I know you’re busy, but is it okay if I bug you for a minute?

Why It’s Annoying:  You know I’m busy, yet you waste my time with this ridiculous preamble to every question?  Just get to the point!

Value Add

What It Means:  We’re doing something new for our clients without charging them to add value to our relationship so they don’t leave us.

Why It’s Annoying:  In other words, you’re already overworked but we’re giving you more responsibility or work to do and you’re not getting paid any more for it.

Get on the Bus

What It Means: Either do things our way or find a new place to work.

Why It’s Annoying:  Umm, because it’s a not-so-subtle threat?

Mission Statement

What It Means:  A short statement identifying the company’s vision and strategy for the future.

Why It’s Annoying:  I’m here to earn a paycheck and support my family, I really don’t care about your delusions of grandeur or your master plan to take over the world.


What It Means: We’re cutting out a bunch of fluff.

Why It’s Annoying:  While some streamlining could be positive if it involves simplifying a difficult and manual process, it all too often involves someone losing a job.

What do you think about these stupid business catch phrases and buzz words?  Are there any I missed that get your blood boiling?


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Mike is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in finance and parenting topics. He is a dedicated husband and father of three who is obsessed with creating multiple streams of income and building wealth so he can achieve true financial freedom for his family. Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our free RSS feed and follow us on Twitter.

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  1. says

    On The Same Page.

    What it means: Let’s make sure we all actually understand what we’re talking about.

    Why it’s annoying: It wasn’t the first time I heard it, or maybe even the tenth. But somewhere around the fiftieth it started to get on my nerves. Making sure we understand each other is good; using the same catchphrase each time is not.


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