The worst office jargon

Siobhan Sharpe and Ian Fletcher from W1A on the train You what? Siobhan Sharpe and Ian Fletcher from W1A highlight the quirks of communication

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It's natural that any language will change with time, absorb new phrases and export words abroad. But some expressions used in organisations, including the BBC, are just unedifying.

They lend disproportionate significance to simple actions, or massage egos by validating their efforts.

Maybe it's time to remember that, as the late American novelist William Gaddis wrote, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication".

So here is our guide to some of the worst office jargon - however, their baffling nature means that not everyone entirely understands or agrees on their definitions.

To stem this plague of linguistic crimes, we suggest you set up a charity swear box where perpetrators donate in penance.

Jason Watkins as a BBC executive in a meeting Don't be afraid to ask people what they really mean
  • Can you action this? - can you do this?
  • Hive mind - emailing people to get ideas
  • Cascade - spread the message/forward via email
  • Can I loop you in? - can I include you?
  • Just circling/looping back to you - just getting back to you
  • Let's take it offline - let's talk about it privately
  • Routine - a regular meeting
  • Let's have a breakout - let's sit down and chat
  • Upstream influencing - suggest something to your senior
  • Upward managing - manage/influence your boss
  • To mandate something - to make something compulsory
  • Ladder up to - build up to
  • PPA (potential problem-solving analysis) - look at how to solve potential problems
  • Benchmarking - comparing your work to the best standards
  • Reach out to me - get in touch
  • Going forward... where else would you be going?

And finally…

  • Ed Pol - Is it a man? Is it a typo? No, it's the editorial policy unit.

Send Ariel Team the worst jargon you've heard and we'll publish a selection.

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