There are so many overused catchphrases in the workplace. They sit on a sliding scale of “annoying” to “I’m going to push you off a cliff,” in the magnitude of rage they conjure up in your coworkers. Why we continue to rely on these expressions to sound smarter in meetings is beyond me. I’ve listed some of the most common offenders in hopes we can all strike these from our work vocabulary once and for all.


Besides the word ‘moist’, this has to be the most annoying word in history. It is physically impossible to give more than 100%. It’s the most you can give. That’s it. The whole enchilada. If you believe you can give more than 100%, you are wrong. Even if you gave 50% yesterday and 60% today, you STILL did not give 110%. It’s not incremental. And where does it end? In the world of the competitive workplace, some jackass in the office is eventually going to try to give 2000% and his head is literally going to pop off his body.


This word literally means ‘actually; without exaggeration.’ It is, however, rarely used as such. Instead, it’s often said in the following manner, “I’m literally going to lose my shit.” What you are saying is you actually lost your shit. Your shit was here a minute ago, but now you can’t find it. You are unclear how it got up and walked away, but it did. Unless something is actually happening, you can probably leave this word out of your sentence.

Thanks in Advance

Basically what you are saying here is, “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.” I picture the person saying this phrase with their head tilted to the side and a patronizing grin on their face. Don’t thank me unless there is a reason. If you want someone to do something for you, just ask. And then sincerely thank them afterwards.

All Hands on Deck

I don’t get this. If all of our hands are on deck, who is going to do the actual work? Can the most qualified person please remove their hands from the deck so we can get something accomplished here?

Think Outside the Box

What is this box and how did we all get here? If we could think of a new, unique way of solving this problem, we would. If you need to tell people this, you’ve got the wrong people in the room. Please let them out of the box and throw some new meat in there.

Too Much on My Plate (Aka-I Don’t Have the Bandwidth)

You will usually hear this phrase uttered by the laziest person in the office. They can also be identified by the heavy sighing as they walk down the hall, uttering loud enough for everyone to hear, “Gosh, I am SO busy.” They are also a Candy Crush black belt.

Help Me Understand

This is a polite way to tell someone they, or their ideas, are stupid. Because that’s frowned upon in most work environments, you slap a little lipstick on it, pat them on the head like a child, and ask them to explain what the hell they are thinking.

Drink the Kool-Aid

Not to be a buzzkill here, but unless this Kool-Aid has vodka in it, can we all please stop using this phrase? It’s often used in a negative connotation, as it should. It references 918 people who died in Jonestown in a mass suicide (murder) by the hands of mad man, Jim Jones. Most were forced; they did not participate willingly, as this poison was squeezed into their mouths. I’ll just leave it at that.

Any of the Following Phrases: Move the Needle/Level Set Expectations/Paradigm Shift/Low Hanging Fruit

If you use any of these, you are a pretentious ass hat. You want coworkers to take you seriously. They are not.

My Ask

A relative newcomer to the list of annoying phrases. I would love to meet the dipshit who first started using this in the workplace. My ask is that you literally go fuck yourself. Request is a perfectly nice word to use when making a request. Because you are actually saying what you mean. This is helpful as a general rule in work and in life.

Whew. I feel better getting this off my chest. I’m certain I’ve left out some gems. What are phrases that get you all hot and bothered at the office?

(This post originally ran on Indie Chicks)

Julie Scagell

Julie has a Masters degree in Psychology, which has proved useless in trying to understand her teenaged daughter. She has the attention span of a gnat, zero sense of direction and loses at least 3 things every day. Except for a minor situation at a county fair, her children are not on the short list of items she’s lost. She is extremely proud of this. You can find her writing on Facebook or Twitter. She has been published on the Washington Post, Babble, McSweeney’s, Scary Mommy, and Huffington Post, among others.


  1. Haha! I loved the “all hands on deck” part! The phrase I hear a lot is “I have a hard stop at 3pm”, meaning this person has another meeting coming up. Why can’t these people just say, “Hey buddy…it’s 2:55pm and I only have 5 more minutes to listen to your crap before I have to go to another pointless meeting, so can you move it along?” I wonder where this corporate lingo gets started!

  2. Re.: All Hands on Deck. You nailed it. What they mean is, “Set General Quarters.” I bet they get this wrong 98% of the time.

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