What are the most annoying work speak phrases?

It’s the end of the week, meaning just one more day of dealing with work speak before everyone talks like a normal human for the weekend.  To ensure you speak like said normal human (and not work speak robot), please avoid the following phrases for the next 72 hours:

On your radar??

Two things are wrong with this: the actual phrase and the additional question mark.  We’re not boats, and this is an incredibly annoying way to say “Did you know about this?”  The additional question mark is just infuriating. One question mark means it’s a question.  Two question marks means the question was written by an annoying douchebag that probably sent the e-mail with the “urgent” red exclamation point.   Any double punctuation marks (!!, ??, or my favorite ?!?) are both grammatically incorrect and anxiety-inducing.

Let’s get our ducks in a row.

I’m not entirely positive what this even means, nor do I care.  Are the ducks in a row so they are easier to shoot down? That sounds insensitive to office vegetarians. Why not say “let’s get our war criminals in a row?”  I think less people would be opposed to lining up war criminals for imminent death than poor baby ducks.

Please keep me in the loop/Let’s close the loop on this/ Circle back with…

WHAT IS WITH THE LOOP?  God forbid that loop stay open, or everyone not be in the loop, or the circle be a triangle.  Inclusion in a closed loop is apparently the most important thing to circle back with at work. Does anyone else see that the problem with this circle/loop/round path is that you end up right where you started at the beginning of the loop circle?

Let’s ramp up our efforts in this area.

Perhaps just say “try harder or your fired.”  That would be more harsh, but less annoying.


Anytime you are asked to “spearhead” an “initiative,” you are being asked to do an annoying job. “John will be spearheading the green initiative in the office” means poor John will be sorting garbage.

Moving forward…

As opposed to?

Let’s take this offline.

Ah, my favorite annoying conference call or reply all phrase.  It means “I’ve fucked up and I’d rather not talk about it in front of everyone.”  I actually generally don’t mind this one unless I’m the one that has to say it.

Connect the dots.

Really?  Work is not a children’s activity book.  There is no coloring, and no dot connecting. Just say what you mean: “Figure it the fuck out.”

Let’s zoom in on that.

We’re not cameras.

It is what it is.

Well no shit. It isn’t what it’s not.  This phrase means nothing, and is a less defeatist sounding way of saying “eh, good enough.”

Please advise.

I can’t explain why this one is so annoying, but I know it is.  It’s generally sent in an accusatory e-mail (“I am waiting on the draft that was due this morning. Please advise.” “You were the last person in the building before it got robbed. Please advise.”) and it might as well say “explain yourself.”  I’ve never received an e-mail where it’s been a good thing (“Your sales numbers are through the roof, please advise.” “I like your outfit today, please advise.”).


As in “I will be interfacing with the client on this initiative at 3PM, please advise.”  When did “speaking with” become unprofessional?

At the end of the day…

At the end of the day, I hope to be as far away from work as possible.  Especially if you keep using these phrases.



One Response to “What are the most annoying work speak phrases?”

  1. Becca Stone Says:

    Though very similar to “Let’s take this offline.”, “let’s sidebar” or “we should have a sidebar about this” is also irritating. If the coffee being served isn’t Irish, stop talking about bars.

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