10 Ridiculous Business Terms

2 min read

I was IMing with a co-worker last week about the absurdity of business jargon. How ridiculous is business-speak? I envision that somewhere there is a committee of Seth Rogan-types who secretly hate their jobs and sit around in a slacker lair inventing dumb shit for business people to say. Stuff that will secretly crack them up when they hear the words repeated. I remember when I started my first big girl business job. I’d hear people speak in a seemingly foreign language and I wanted to quit. It was Office Space: Live!

(sidenote: OMG you guys, a co-worker and I IM’d about non-work stuff, this is such progress in the work friendship department. This deserves Rachel Zoe levels of excitement: This is so “major!” )

Business Jargon

Business Jargon

10 laughable business terms

1. Putting Out Fires

Usually said by a self-important middle-manager as she/he runs around spreading her/his frenetic energy to everyone else. “People, we have fires to put out!” *Yawn* Call a damn fireman then! Why are you talking to me about it? Keep your stress ball to yourself and get back to me when there’s an actual fire. My hair might be flammable.

2. I don’t have the bandwidth for that

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto. You are a machine right? That’s why you’re talking about your bandwidth? You got a panel on your back we need to open to increase your bandwidth? Do you know Vicky from Small Wonder? I have always wanted to meet her. She wore prairie dresses like nobody’s business.

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto (ロボット人ありがとう)

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto (cr: Daniel Y. Go)

3. Circle Back

It means to um, I think, like, revisit something? Oh who cares! You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna make a circle all right, a circle around a bar as I get multiple rounds of beer ‘til I get so drunk I walk in an arc. Yeah, circle baaa – I’m so wasted. Heeeeeeee!

4. Think Outside the Box

How long have we been saying this now? I think everyone is outside of the stupid box. That box is probably skanky as hell now. All kinds of germs and shit. People passing the flu back and forth to each other. Gross. Now, who’s gonna be different climb right back in? That’s a real trailblazer. Enjoy the box. Looooove the box. Empower yourself to circle back to the box.

I do not want to be in a box with this guy! cr:  califrayray, flickr.com

I do not want to be in a box with this guy!
cr: califrayray, flickr.com

5. Let’s Touch Base

Is there a reason business people never reference things actually related to business? How about “hey, come to my cubicle where everyone can see and hear our business! Good times, man, good times!” In business, we “touch base”, we are cool like baseball players. But, no. You sir, are no Sammy Sosa, weird-looking face notwithstanding.

6. On the radar screen

Again! You are not a pilot. You do not work for the FAA. You’re not directing air traffic. You’re not flying anywhere, but I do secretly think you like to get high. So high. I see it in your eyes when you talk about putting out fires. You really wanna blaze it up! Give in to your inner smokey!

7. Let’s “parking lot” this discussion

Great, I’m out. Dueces! Peace out, suckas! Oh, you mean we can’t go home? Say what, now? “parking lot it” means to discuss it later? %)*%#)^&_)&%^@!

8. Let’s drill-down to the fine points.

I like to drill. Actually I love Home Depot. The place is amazing. Did you know you can buy toilet seat covers there? Like with cute little duckies on them and everything?

9. Utilize / Incentivize

Stop. Just stop. Stop making up words, biz. You don’t need to “utilize” anything. You can use it. You may have used it. It may be even be useful. You should find a way to incent yourself to stop using the worlds “utilize” and “incentivize.”

10. Value Add


We speak a language only we can understand.  cr: IIP State, flickr.com

We speak a language only we can understand.
cr: IIP State, flickr.com

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  • Laura
    February 23, 2013

    Oh, and seriously? People have said “let’s parking lot this discussion”? Douche-move, bro. I’ve heard of “let’s table the issue” which also doesn’t make sense but sounds less stupid.

    • thegirlnextdoorisblack
      February 25, 2013

      Yep, it is a very real term you’ll hear used in business. I remember the first time I heard someone use it – it was a consultant who dropped in to “help” us. It was all I could do to keep from laughing as he said it.

  • Laura
    February 23, 2013

    I can honestly say that I have never, ever heard most of these said out loud. They wouldn’t really make a lot of sense in my field anyway.

  • Heidi
    February 10, 2013

    Awwww come on…. As a PM you LOVE the biz jargon. What about Scrums and all the rugby terms from Agile? Or just the term agile?
    ‘Utilize’ drives me abso-fucking-lutely crazy. It’s not just in biz speak, which makes it that much worse.

    • thegirlnextdoorisblack
      February 11, 2013

      I just tell people I’m a PM and keep it simple, otherwise I get bizarre questioning looks, lol.

      Yes, utilize is just awful. I’m trying to let that go though since so many people use it.

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