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Revealed: The ten most annoying office phrases

On the surface, it may seem like a polite way to ask for someone’s time but saying ‘Can I borrow you for a sec?’ is a surefire way to irritate your colleagues, according to latest research.

A survey of 2,000 workers, revealing the most overused sayings at work, also put perennial meeting favourites ‘How long is a piece of string?’ and ‘Think outside the box’ in the top ten most annoying phrases.

It seems however that, despite our dislike of jargon, it is now commonplace in the office environment with 94% of workers saying they are exposed to it. However, the survey also highlights that many actually misunderstand the true meaning behind some of the jargon they are subjected to — for example, 42% of respondents believed ‘Dial it up’ to mean ‘make a phone call’ rather than ‘amplify’.

We conducted a quick poll at OSP HQ to discover our own buzzword bugbear. The result was unanimous and is beautifully expressed in the diagram below.

annoying phrases

Top 10 phrases guaranteed to irritate your co-workers:

  • 1. Can I borrow you for a sec?
  • 2.How long is a piece of string?
  • 3.Think outside the box
  • 4. Get all your ducks in a row
  • 5.Touch base offline
  • 6.Win-win
  • 7.Pick your brains
  • 8.Low-hanging fruit
  • 9.Blue-sky thinking
  • 10.Just playing devil’s advocate