Let's "unpack", "park" and "circle back" to all the weird phrases we only ever use in the office.

If there’s one thing every office around the world has in common, it’s the term ‘circle back’.

Have you ever heard that used in the wild?

Surely not, because it only exists in the walls of your office, under the fluorescent lights and accompanied by thousands of similarly stupid and strange terms and phrases.

Things people never say in the office. Post continues below video.

Video via Mamamia

These phrases pop up wherever you are in your work: In a meeting, on a conference call or passive-aggressively used in an email.

Jargon is a necessary part of most jobs, and in some cases, buzzwords are useful.

But so often, it’s just using an unnecessarily complicated word to describe or ask something simple. Why does the word ‘bandwidth’ require a mention, when all you’re doing is asking someone if they’re busy?

On Mamamia Out Loud Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Jessie Stephens discuss the email phrases you definitely shouldn’t be using. Post continues below. 


It’s as if walking through an office door suddenly makes us unable to speak… normally. Everything suddenly becomes about “drilling down” and “touching base”, and – oh god – “capacity”.

Let’s ‘unpack’ this, with a list of buzzwords and phrases you’d definitely only ever use in a work setting:

  • “Let’s take this offline”
  • “Let’s drill down into this”
  • “Just circling back”
  • “Just touching base”
  • “Just flagging”
  • “Do you have capacity?”
  • “Let’s unpack this”
  • “I’m out of the loop on this one”
  • “Let’s be proactive on that”
  • “Let’s regroup”
  • “What is the pain point?”
  • “The key takeaway is…”
  • “Synergy”
  • “Bandwidth”
  • “Wheelhouse”
  • “Value-add”
  • “Optics”
  • “Robust”
  • “Do you need a refresher?”
  • “Low-hanging fruit”
  • “Move the needle”
  • “Onboarding”
  • “Paradigm”
  • “Thought leadership”
  • “Mission critical”
  • “Start the conversation”
  • “Change the conversation”
  • “Let’s have a conversation!”
  • “A fresh set of eyes”
  • “Bespoke”
  • “Blue sky thinking”
  • “Spearhead”
  • “Let’s shelve that for now”
  • “Let’s park it”
  • “X will take the lead on that”
  • “Start building consensus”
  • “I’ll ping you”
  • “Root cause”
  • “Ducks in a row”
  • “It’s on my radar”
  • “A holistic approach”
  • “Merits further discussion”

Also, we’ve just discovered ‘The Corporate B.S Generator‘, a wonderfully helpful tool to make you seem really ‘integrated’ in your work world.

Today’s corporate catch phrase, courtesy of the generator, is: “Distinctively reconceptualise focused ideas”, and wow, we’re all going to seem so on to it in our next meetings.

Maybe corporate language comes from a need to create a boundary around our work lives. Like building a fence, with a sign that reads “I’m working”.

It’s also perhaps a way of feeling like we ‘fit in’ in an office.

Tell your colleague the “optics” of their “out the box” idea has little “value-add” and they’ll probably know what you mean, or at least pretend they do. Drop that in the group chat or over brunch with your mates? At a family gathering? On a date? Well, good luck with that.

Maybe using buzzwords makes work feel more important: You could just ask someone to work on X thing first, but if you mention it’s ‘mission critical’, well suddenly it seems like a life-or-death situation (and unless you’re a medical professional, it’s definitely not).

There’s probably nothing we can do to change this but idk, maybe this is just blue sky thinking… But – I’m just flagging – we should park it and circle back… never.

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