Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College

Love them or hate them, corporate buzzwords are here to stay. Anyone with an office job will tell you there are certain phrases that tend to get used (and overused) on a daily basis. Having a working knowledge of those phrases is critical if you want to fit in and understand your coworkers, because smiling and nodding only gets you so far…

I got some great feedback on defining some common social media terms last year, and since I’m officially a working man, I thought I’d start off this year by defining some corporate jargon that I hear every day around the office. Since no one taught me these phrases in college, it took a few weeks to get used to the lingo. If you are entering the workforce soon, expect to hear these gems all the time. If you’ve already been in the workforce for years, you’ve probably heard these words and phrases ad nauseum.

Full disclosure: I use many of these buzzwords daily.

10 Office Buzzwords Every Employee Should Know

1. Bandwidth – How much time and resources you have in a period of time. Be prepared to hear, “What does your bandwidth look like today?” Inappropriate answer: “My download speeds are at 10Mb/s.” Appropriate answer: “Busy this morning, but free this afternoon, boss!”

2. COB/EOD – The time when most people stop working, also known as Close of Business or End of Day. EOD is popular for project deadlines, because 6 a.m. deadlines are just silly. Not to be confused with the common “At the end of the day…” which, confusingly, mostly just means “finally” or “in the end.”

3. Deck – A staple in any modern business meeting: the PowerPoint slideshow. “There are 50 slides in this deck and we have 30 minutes to get through it. Let’s get started!”

4. Take it offline – When a meeting or conference call starts to deviate from the set agenda or a topic is too big to address in the set meeting time, you do this to discuss it later. “Let’s take this conversation offline so we can do a deep dive into this later.”

5. Deep dive – To explore an issue or subject in depth. “Let’s take this conversation offline so we can do a deep dive into this later.”

6. Action items – Action items sounds way cooler than it actually is. They are important things that need to be done after leaving a meeting. It’s like a professional to-do list.

7. OOO – Acronym for Out of Office. You set an OOO email to let people know when you’ll be back and who to contact when you are enjoying a day off, out on the golf course for vacation, out on the golf course for “work,” or just generally not in the office while everyone else is.

8. Leverage – To use a resource. You can leverage a team member’s skillset to accomplish a task. Also, the name of a great TV show.

9. Value-add – This is a classic case of the “reverse order of ordinary phrase to make it trendy” trend. Value-add means added value. “We need to look at the value-add of the project before we move forward with it.”

10. Touch base – Much like “Google,” touch base is used as both a noun and a verb. A touch base is a meeting that is used to catch one party up on another party’s work or talk about random things. See also: Status.

Hopefully you’ll be prepared the next time your boss asks you, “What does your bandwidth look like for today? Our client is OOO tomorrow so we need a deck by EOD. We’ll have a status to touch base by COB.”

Feel free to share any buzzwords that you think people should know–or stop using.

About Andrew Grojean

Andrew is a Senior Analyst, Social Media at a digital marketing agency in KC, interested in all things social media, pop culture, sports, and technology.

20 comments

  1. Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/DUPdboFa via @andrewgrojean

  2. Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/Bbc6cGP4 via @andrewgrojean

  3. Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/F5YPYbh9 via @andrewgrojean

  4. I have an associate who likes to ‘check the plumbing.’ That is not about taking a biological (restroom) break, but instead examining the reasons for doing a project.

  5. RT @andrewgrojean: My latest post- Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/S89ERu3P

  6. I love this! MT:“@andrewgrojean: Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/UTLdcBHv”

  7. RT @andrewgrojean: My latest post- Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/0sPGL4WN

  8. Is Your Office Lingo Filled With Corporate Buzzwords? How May Of These Do YOU Use? http://t.co/t0sHhipR

  9. “Are we on the same page”…. like WTF is that meant to mean? and would you dare say NO????

  10. Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/ggd9ZpYa via @andrewgrojean

  11. @FWilson105 Thought of you http://t.co/iLk9KyHP – what can use first? ;)

  12. RT @andrewgrojean: My latest post- Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/S89ERu3P

  13. Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/ysE0rzA3 via @andrewgrojean

  14. Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/RCE8Hjha via @andrewgrojean

  15. Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College http://t.co/81QZhelI via @andrewgrojean

  16. The worst #office buzzwords – http://t.co/JvXavJGB! “Our client is OOO tomorrow so we need a deck by EOD.” #comedygems

  17. Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach in CollegeAndrew Grojean http://t.co/ushBMigYH2 via @andrewgrojean

  18. Corporate Buzzwords: The Foreign Language They Don’t Teach You in College – Andrew Grojean http://t.co/QV5XzsHhKg

  19. “Out of the box” solution .. . . who’s living or thinking in a box anyway?

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