Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

50 Odd Phrases That Should Be Banned From The Workplace

By Anthony Hughes | Apr 28, 2016 | Friday Funnies

50 Odd Phrases That Should Be Banned From The WorkplaceThe English language is a pretty funny thing…

I mean, why exactly do we insist on talking gobbledegook and jargon the whole time?

Why can’t we just say exactly what we mean?

I’ve got a little bit of a fun exercise for you this week to prove my point – below you’ll find 50 irritating, frustrating and cheesy phrases that are used all the time in workplaces across the UK.

Have a look through and take the time to imagine if each phrase was actually completely literal…

50 Phrases You Should Ban From your Workplace…

cat poking his head out and in of the box he's sat in

Is it time to think outside the box?

1. Let’s touch base. Excuse me?

2. You’ll have to “push back” more. 

Push back on what?

3. Work hard, play hard.

How does one play ‘hard?’

4. We need to go for the “low-hanging” fruit. I’ll stop now…

5. Would you mind “pinging” across an email? I feel like you may have confused your verbs here.

6. Keep me in the loop. What’s “the loop?” Some sort of fairground ride?

7. Think outside the box. If I’m not currently inside the box doesn’t that mean I’m already thinking outside the box?

8. Can I borrow you for a sec? Firstly, what do you mean by “borrow me?” (Bit scary). Secondly, time’s up.

9. There is no “I” in team. There is one in “p*ss off” though.

10. I want you to give 110%. That’s not a thing Barry.

woman looking confused and then singing

Are we all singing from the same hymn sheet?

11. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Thanks for the great egg-picking tip.

12. Can I pick your brains?

Slightly terrifying…

13. Are we all singing from the same hymn sheet? Nope.

14. Let’s put our cards on the table. Am I being robbed? Or being challenged to a game of Poker?

15. Let’s get all of our ducks in a row. Are you quackers? (Sorry, had to).

16. Win-win. Oh, that’s a nice new, made-up word Margaret. You’re so creative.

17. I’m just playing devil’s advocate. I really hope that this is just some online video game.

18. How long is a piece of string? I guess it depends on what piece of string you’re referring to…

19. Good afternoon (when you walk in 10 mins late). Really Jane? Did you have to?

20. I’m just going to “crunch the numbers.” Do they taste good?

get the ball rolling odd phrases

Let’s get the ball rolling!

21. Bang out an email.

Again, I feel like this verb-choice is strange and unnecessary.

22. I’ll run it over to you…

No need to rush, I’m sure I can wait an extra couple of seconds.

23. Just give me a shout if you need me. OK Susan, I’m going to have to shout quite loud though, to get your attention in your office 125 miles away.

24. Teamwork, dreamwork. I just heaved a little.

25. Close-of-play today. I thought we weren’t allowed to play in the office?

26. It’s just positive friction. I’ll leave this bizarre one to the physicists.

27. Let’s get the ball rolling then… Is this some fun new-fangled way to procrastinate?

28. Stop trying to re-invent the wheel. That does seem like a fair request.

29. Cheer up, it might never happen. It already did Kevin, it already did.

30. All we need to do is dot the is and cross the ts. You probably could have saved some time, doing that as you went along, you know.

big plate of pancakes

I’ve got a lot on my plate…

31. Are we all on the same page?

I very much doubt it.

32. Let’s go ‘off-piste’ with this one.

Ski-trip?! Fantastic.

33. It’s on my radar. You have radar?! That’s amazing.

34. We missed the window of opportunity. Ah damn! That sounds like a fun place.

35. My door is always open/ I have an open-door policy. You must get cold…

36. I’ve got a lot on my plate. You don’t have to eat it all, you know.

37. We’re moving the goalposts. Brill, I’m up for some after-work footy.

38. It’s not about the money. Oh OK then, good to know.

39. It is what it is. Thanks for clearing that up, pal.

40. Job titles followed by the word Ninja, Guru or Wizard. Just STOP.

man taking a nap under the desk at work

You snooze, you lose!

41. Those phones won’t pick up themselves.

But how amazing would it be if they could?

42. You snooze, you lose. And probably get the sack.

43. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys.

I have always wanted a pet monkey.

44. Blue sky thinking. That must be relaxing.

45. We don’t want to put square pegs in round holes. Ooh goodie – are we going camping?

46. Nice to put a face to the name… Are you some kind of policeman?

47. “I am a self-starter.” I think we all are, right?

48. Working hard or hardly working? Shut up Madge.

49. That’s above my salary/pay grade. And you Peter.

50. Talent acquisition. So… recruitment then?

Heard these clichés before?

Or goodness forbid – have you ever used them?

If you’ve got any more ideas to add onto our super-list of cringe-worthy clichés and awful buzzwords, then simply pop a comment in the box below, we’d love to hear them!

Recruiter Pro Tip

In our line of work, we come across a lot of clichés. Usually found within…

If you’re currently recruiting or looking for a job, click on the respective links to find out some of the most predictable and cringe-worthy phrases you (really, really) shouldn’t be using.

Would you like to read more funny stories like this one? Simply click here to subscribe!

We’ll send over a short weekly update with our latest ‘Friday Funny.’

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

Get in touch with us.

Telephone: 0121 362 2300
Or send us a quick message and we’ll call you.
*These are required fields
Please leave this field empty.