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Most hated business jargon revealed

A new nationwide study has revealed the most hated business jargon phrases, according to the nation’s office workers, with “blue sky thinking” voted the most annoying.

The term is used to mean coming up with completely new ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs, and 27 % of those polled said it drove them up the wall.

“Think outside the box” (think in an original way) came second, with 26 % of the vote, and in third place “low hanging fruit” (the most obvious or easy things that can be done) with 23 %.

Also making the list of the UK’s most infuriating office jargon was “touch base” (23 %), “stay ahead of the curve” (20 %) and “ducks in a row” (20 %).

The study, by Telford-based communications solutions specialist Enreach, revealed that “there’s plenty of ways to skin a rabbit” (18 %) and “throwing a curveball” (17 %) were also terms that wound British workers up.

Other pet peeves when it comes to office jargon include “game changer” (17 %), “moving the goalposts” (16 %), “bring to the table” (16 %) and “ballpark figure” (16 %).

Office workers also can’t stand business jargon like “riding the wave” (15 %), “synergy” (14 %) and “drill down” (14 %).

And it’s no surprise that almost one in two office workers (47 %) admit business jargon is the most annoying thing ever. In fact 46 % say that colleagues guilty of using business jargon come across like they’re trying really hard to impress, while 43 % just find them irritating.

Over a fifth (21 %) of the 1,500 working Brits polled claim they would run a mile if they went to a job interview and their potential employer kept using lots of business jargon.

And 44 % said if they had a pound for everytime their boss used office jargon, then they would be a millionaire by now. Yet almost two thirds (64 %) confess they find themselves sometimes using the dreaded jargon - with one in ten (eight %) saying they can’t help but do it constantly.

A spokesperson from Enreach said: “Our research shows that communicating effectively at work is vital, as so many of us haven’t got time to waste. Business jargon is clearly making that difficult, with the results from this study demonstrating that phrases like ‘blue sky thinking’ are unhelpful and even off-putting, and that people would prefer to understand more clearly what their colleagues mean.

“At a time when we still may not be face-to-face with our colleagues, simple clear communication is one of the most important things that we all need. Jargon phrases are clogging up valuable time with vague ideas, when people actually need to be making the most of their work hours to maintain a proper work-life balance. As a business we make a conscious effort to avoid jargon and unhelpful acronyms and deliver first class, easy to understand communications to our customers.”

The study also found that 90% of workers believe some people use business talk and phrases to try and cover up the fact that they have no idea what they’re doing.

And three in ten employees (31 %) can’t understand what their boss is talking about thanks to the constant use of business jargon - with a quarter admitting they’ve been completely baffled by work documents full of these terms.

Sixty-eight per cent think more people working in business should be trying to make communication more straightforward, with 36 % arguing that office jargon is stuffy and outdated. The data also revealed that just under a fifth (19 %) of the office workers polled confess they have a “work personality” that’s completely at odds with who they are outside of work. In fact, over a third (35 %) admit that the way they talk at work could be considered cringeworthy.