Overused phrases at work I don’t like.

I had no supervision today, and instead of working hard, I made a short list of phrases I hear people at work say all the time. A few of these are pretty universal, others are endemic to my workplace.

In full transparency.” As anyone who has ever held a job might expect, this phrase spoken by your boss indicates that the next words you’re going to hear are complete lies. They are clearly lying–hence, “transparent.”

Y’know what I mean?” A perennially hated classic, in this case it is asked in a rapid, whiny, insistent tone. It indicates that the speaker is unsure if they themselves know what they mean, but hopes that you’ll find some point in what they’re saying and agree with it.

I appreciate you.” I’ve hearing this quite a bit lately. I appreciate that you appreciate me–nevertheless, could you save it for when I do something more consequential than handing you a photocopy? You are making me suspicious that you don’t, in fact, appreciate me at all. Waaah.

No worries.” A popularly hated phrase. This would be fine in a situation in which one might have good reason to be worried about putting someone out, but it comes off as mildly offensive when there should be no cause for worries. It implies you might have inconvenienced them, but in their infinite generosity, they wish to assure you that you didn’t. Typically used when someone is not even going out of their way to do their job.

To be quite honest.” Another indicator that you are about to be lied to or criticized unfairly. By informing you that they possess the virtue of honesty, the speaker expects that you will believe their lie more easily. Look how easy it is–just simply tell someone you’re honest and they’ll believe everything you say! Shazam!

Here’s what I’m going to say.” This announcement is supposed to give the recipient of the criticism or lie the understanding that the case will be shortly closed. It lends an imagined magisterial weight to the criticism and/or lie, forestalling any argument that would immediately destroy it.

Let me give you the why’s.” Colloquial jargon used to–what else–indicate you are about to be lied to yet again, this time under the guise of casual talk. We’re just chatting about business, you and I, as equals. The boss would never lie to an equal, right? But I don’t know what are usually stupider–the fake “why’s” or the real “why’s.” This is, after all, business.

Agile.” An adjective used to describe someone who is used as a tool, moved from place to place, task to task, without complaining. Doesn’t matter if they’re any good at even one of the multitude of tasks, just that they do it without complaining. Such an individual is vastly preferable to one who is competent at a specialized job.

The ‘Johns’.” This is not a common phrase but was developed by the boss. This construction is used when you wish to refer to an entire group by one associate’s name. So, let’s say someone doesn’t like John. She then refers collectively to all associates she doesn’t like as “The Johns.” The name “John” is not literally used–you insert the name of the disliked person. May also, more rarely, be used in cases of referring to a group of liked associates. Not dehumanizing at aaaaaaall.

Got any phrases that really grind your gears or steam your broccoli? Be careful though–I’m one of those “It is what it is” people!

79 thoughts on “Overused phrases at work I don’t like.

    1. “Paradigm shift” is always used over-dramatically. I admit I use “low-hanging fruit.” And having been a thirteen year old girl, nothing quite strikes fear in a person like “no offense, but…” does.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is hysterical, and true. Goes to show…most people don’t know what to say…so they stick to a script of pre-approved comments. Plus, you know, if you’re in business…it’s all lies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Got any phrases that really grind your gears or steam your broccoli?”

    πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ this sounds so much like it would be a classic British expression. Maybe “boil your sprouts” πŸ˜‚.

    I’m so glad you pick up on these! All my life whenever I’ve brought up stuff like this, I just get blank stares or worse, looked at like I’m crazy. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just unusually sensitive to repetition, and I have a very short patience with anything repetitive including songs.

    But yeah along with being bugged by the repetition and unoriginality of your example phrases, I have trauma from their usage too. This all overlaps with examples of passive aggression (a lot of your examples were!), which I either don’t pick up or become very irritated/hurt by!

    Just the sound of those phrases like “Here’s what I’m going to say…” fills me with dread. It’s fucking brutal! Fuck that! This stuff makes me withdraw from society lol.

    “Just to make sure you’re aware…”
    “If you could please make sure you when .” which is grammatically non-sensical!!
    “Thanks for reaching out…but your request is completely meritless.”
    “Please don’t hesitate to ask for help…but don’t expect any fucking help.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oo I just thought of another one—you receive an email detailing someone’s own stupid misunderstanding of the situation and they end it with “Please advise.” This means “You’re an idiot. Just try and get out of this.” When really they’re the idiot.

      I think you and I are just very sensitive to the underlying implications in what people say, even when they wield these tired phrases at you.

      I like “boil your sprouts.” Very vegan. Or are they too pure to boil things? πŸ€”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha yeah I know that example too!

        “I think you and I are just very sensitive to the underlying implications in what people say, even when they wield these tired phrases at you.”

        Yes totally true, this is quite a crucial point actually. The root of so much childhood trauma and distrust I had of close family members. Other people just dismiss it when you tell them because these phrases are such ‘standard’ types of things to say. But they’re coming at it from a point of view of ‘societal norms’ rather than from a reality-based, first-principles, intuitive point of view.

        It’s weird because the consensus definitely agrees with us on every example, in how to treat people respectfully and empathetically. Just that they don’t always apply it consistently in these situations especially when there’s stress or when it suits them.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Yep!!

            I once voiced such a thought to my dad about how it stressed me knowing that he existed πŸ˜†. Because of course he lived rent-free in my mind repeating all the hurtful things I ever heard, forevermore. He went into some rant demanding that I had one month to move out, which was already in progress anyway. That was before my final stable period of independent living which lasted a couple years before this current phase :). And of course I had to move back in with them, only to be kicked out again this time with no warningβ€¦πŸ˜† fucking ‘ell. OCD fuel xD.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. “Just between you and me…” This is our secret which bonds us and I now use to manipulate you. No one else knows this secret. Only you. Only me. I am so special. And now, because I share, so are you. To earn my trust, you must now keep my secret. And do my bidding. Yes, always do my bidding.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. “Agile.”

    As a programmer, words cannot describe how much I hate this word. Please do a google search, I don’t wish to explain this terrible thing here.

    I’m surprised though you didn’t mention phrases like “We’re family here!” Right before you’re fired.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was wondering if anyone else had to deal with this one. I see you have suffered much as well. They never say we’re family though, that’s just too blatant a lie. Unless someone were to say we’re a dysfunctional family.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think you’re on Linkedin (Lucky woman) most of the companies drive at “Family” bit hard there.

        Join us, we’re family. Work overtime, for we’re family. Don’t ask for pay, for we’re family.

        And the boss / CEO has the attitude of some twisted Christian father. (Apologies if this offends you. That was the closest thing I could think of to describe their attitude.)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve got a positive one for you Hetty, here in Oz we have doing a Bradberry. He won the ice skating at the Winter Olympics cos he was the only one not to fall 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah for sure. Although I myself sometimes say something like “I’m gonna be completely honest” which doesn’t mean I’m going to lie, but that I’m just going to say something out straight. A lot of times it’s the tone in which things are said.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I spent my career at a large corporation, so all the corporate-speak terms came to be annoying. Win-win, moving forward, maybe most annoying: “Because it’s the right thing to do.” Hypocritical bastards. “That said,” is good, as well as “at the end of the day.” Seriously, these are supposed to be educated people. Maybe the first and second people who said “at the end of the day” and other ringing phrases sounded clever. After that, just a bunch of etymological vampires.
    Not commonly heard, but once, a woman who was training me on some detail of our work said to me, “This should take you about thirty minutes to finish–I do it in twenty, but I multi-task.” I wanted to give her a medal for being such a good employee, while simultaneously flipping her off. Multi-task this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Moving forward”! Yes I hate, or the “going forward” variation. Translation: “From now on, your life is going to suck even more than it does right now.” I admit I say “at the end of the day” a lot. The proud multi-tasker lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure, but I think every single one of these corporate phrases are designed to conceal the company’s intention to further inconvenience the employee. I once heard the phrase “comfort zone,” but it was only used to tell us, in a meeting, that from now one there would BE no comfort zone. We were thrilled.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, to be a top-tier software developer, you can’t have settled into too many textual tropes — not if you want to be taken, seriously.
        You diss’d “no worries” which I use, and intend to mean, “I take no offense, nor incur any loss due to your failure to perform X.” I see it as self-deprecation, at which I’m notorious.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I always thought “no worries” carried a positive idea, slightly fanciful, like “piece of cake.” But like so many other old people (and by old I only mean been alive to goddam long) I didn’t like the “no problem” response to my “thanks.” But it kind of says the same thing, and I remembered in the formal Spanish classes we Californians were forced to have at every grade level, the proper response to “gracias” was “de nada.”

          Liked by 2 people

          1. “de nada”–ooh, that one still gets my goat. “Well, thank-you-very-much your highness. Thanks for bending down from on-high and deigning to pass a crumb of courtesy my way.” (prick!)

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Well, like I said, the formal Spanish response, de nada, “it’s nothing,” is OK to a Spanish speaker, so “no problem” should be, too. Depends on how you say it, I guess! Do you mean, you wouldn’t have done it if it WAS a problem? But I think it’s just generational. I wasn’t immune, and had to relearn how to say “you’re welcome,” which I still think is the most gracious response. Maybe because back when I was learning to talk, my mom would correct me and make me say “you’re welcome.”

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I usually do things whether it’s a problem at not, at least if I’m getting paid for it πŸ˜…. Sometimes I find “you’re welcome” brusque depending on who says it. Are we all just oversensitive and crazy??


  6. OK, here’s one that one of the PMs uses so often she’s got others using it. “Great call-out”
    Fuck. I wanna reach through the wire and throttle her.
    It says, I’m superior and I get to judge your statements.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m also a ‘no worries’ sort – I picked it up late in life because people around me started saying it, and, being a naturally anxious person, I liked the idea of no worries. It reminds me a bit of Bobby McFerrin, every time I hear it – a little bit of carefree music happens somewhere in the troubled recesses of my mind. No worries!

    I think of that particular expression in the same way as “100%” (young people seem to say this, I have yet to discover the age cut-off), and “not so much” – these aren’t inherently offensive either, just peculiar to the age. Language is bubbly.

    I’m willing to bet though, based on your stories of your workplace, that when somebody says “no worries” there, they are probably being visibly sarcastic or have otherwise just done something or are about to do something contrary to telling you that you have nothing to worry about. You deserve a better work environment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the “no worries” people aren’t really putting that much thought into it–I think I’m the one overthinking it, probably. I can see you as the type of person who genuinely doesn’t want people to worry about it. I say 110%–does this mean I’m getting old because the percent is going up?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a difference, i think: a person gives 110% (as in effort), but when I say “the sky is blue”, and you agree (and I guess you’re gen z or something), you say, “yeah, 100%”, or just, “100%”… meaning, “I agree with what you just said”.

        But if you’re saying you use “110%” in the second way, I think that’s awesome and subversive. What does it mean to agree with somebody 110%??? πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I might not have needed to explain the 100% vs 110% contexts… I’m actually uncertain whether “100%” is not only generational but also regional. I only here it locally, but I imagine it must be everywhere. Except, I didn’t hear “not so much” until I moved to Nova Scotia… so I’ve been assuming that’s regional too.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Alrighty then. You hit another one out of the park. I enjoyed the comments as much as the post. This is top notch poking the eye, pulling the nose and twisting the ears of our Idiocracy. My favorite boiled vegetable saying is…”X made the baseless claim…”. Which is a favorite comment to activate the cancel culture council. Let the food fights begin!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have so many overused buzzwords and phrases in my head, they just pop out without me noticing. Our little sub category of nerdy Homo blovious species uses so much tech talk that we can talk for hours and no one knows what anybody said so we end up reading body language to tell us it’s time to shut up and get back to work.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I have a question, though. This seems like a good place to ask it. Is the phrase “thanks for sharing” generally meant to be sarcastic? I ask because it always seems that way to me, but I can never figure it out. And I don’t particularly like it when I am told that. It feels kind of dismissive, if not sarcastic.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How did I miss this post? Current job is into “noodle” as a verb meaning “to brainstorm” or “to think” I think. As in, “let’s noodle on this” – I’d never heard the term used this way until this job. More generally, I think “personal brand” the way all the LinkedInfluencers use it is another overused term. I’ve heard for years about how developing a personal brand is so important, and yet, if you asked me to use the term “personal brand” in a sentence, I don’t think I could, let alone tell you what my personal brand is. It’s one of those fuzzy concepts I don’t know how to define.

    I do want to start incorporating “steam your broccoli” in conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Noodle” sounds like something a boomer would say. Or a brain-training app. I hate the term “personal brand.” It just sounds icky to me somehow. Like a lifestyle coach trying to make money by pretending to be your best friend.


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