These are the 9 most annoying phrases people use at work, according to a new survey

With ridiculous words and passive-aggressive work phrases invading today’s office dialogue, it’s clear people are pretty sensitive about language in the workplace.

A new survey by cloud-based Enterprise Work Management provider Workfront puts “overused” jargon in the spotlight.

The worst offender?

Of the 2,001 U.S. enterprise workers surveyed, almost half — 47%— chose “think outside the box” as the most overused office cliche today.

Here are the offending phrases — and some ideas on how to avoid them.

‘Think outside the box’

Respondents clearly weren’t fans of this term. Ditch the box and simply say “be creative” instead.


Eighteen percent of those surveyed hated this old chestnut the most. Try “collaboration,” “cooperation,” or maybe “harmony.”


Another 18% chose this one, which could better be expressed as your capacity or time available to get something done.

‘Circle back’

Thirteen percent picked this. Try: “Let’s revisit this later.”

‘At a high level’

Just 12% picked this. Maybe just: “a lot.”

‘Table this conversation’

Just say, “We’re done talking about this for now.”

‘Run it up the flagpole’

Seven percent picked this one. Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc., and author of “Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results,” told Business Insider  that this term has been used since the 1950s, and talked about what to say instead.

“Instead use the words, ‘pilot test,’ ‘focus group,’ or say, ‘Let’s present the idea tentatively and see if it receives a favorable reaction,’” Price told the publication.

‘Move the needle’

How about: “make progress.”

‘Pow wow’

Make things simple for yourself — especially since this term can be seen as culturally insensitive: Just say “meeting” instead.

What’s the most annoying phrase you hear at work? Let us know in The Climb.