Buzz 'Off': Some Workplace Jargon is Annoying

August 27, 2009 ( - A recent survey suggests workplace communication needs to improve as common clichés, buzzwords, and industry jargon are just plain tired.

The survey of 150 senior executives from the nation’s 1,000 largest companies by Accountemps revealed that some of the most annoying or overused phrases or buzzwords in the workplace today are:

  • Leverage: As in, “We intend to leverage our investment in IT infrastructure across multiple business units to drive profits.”
  • Reach out: “Remember to reach out to customers impacted by the change.”
  • It is what it is: “The server is down today, and clients are irate. It is what it is.”
  • Viral: “Our video has gone viral.”
  • Game-changer: “Transitioning from products to solutions was a game-changer for our company.”
  • Disconnect: “There is a disconnect between what the consumer wants and what the product provides.”
  • Value-add: “We have to evaluate the value-add of this activity before we spend more on it.”
  • Circle back: “I’m heading out of the office now, but I will circle back with you later.”
  • Socialize: “We need to socialize this concept with our key stakeholders.”
  • Interface: “My job requires me to interface with all levels of the organization.”
  • Cutting-edge: “Our cutting-edge technology gives us a competitive advantage.”

“When business or industry terms become overused, people stop paying attention to them,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps, in a press release. “The best communicators use clear and straightforward language that directly illustrates their points.”

Other phrases cited in the survey definitely seem recession-related – meaning they should disappear on their own in time – including:

  • Recession,
  • Depression,
  • Economy,
  • Do more with less,
  • Restructuring,
  • Downsizing,
  • Gloom and doom,
  • Pay freeze,
  • Bailout, and
  • Overworked.

Looking back at the words and phrases reported as most annoying in a 2004 Accountemps survey, it seems the buzz in the workplace may not change (see Survey Finds Most Overused Office Clichés ).