New corporate language
There’s a new language in the world of business. It’s not Mandarin Chinese, which some predict will become an essential office language in the future. It’s not even English, which has been considered a global corporate language for some time now. The language I’m referring to is ‘office speak’.
Office speak – are you fluent?
Office speak. These are words or phrases commonly used in the office. These can be very useful as they express ideas in a concise way however if used too frequently they can become cliché. Here are seven of the best phrases (or worst – depending on your point of view!), used in offices around the world today.
Top 7 Office Speak Phrases
1.Blue-sky thinking – This is my personal favourite and is a phrase I’ve only recently heard being used. If you are asked to employ ‘blue sky-thinking’, you are supposed to think creatively and to explore ideas with an open mind.
2. To take something offline – The theory here is that things said in a meeting with other people is online. ‘Taking something offline’ means to discuss ideas further with an individual in a unofficial or informal way.
3. Bio-break – It seems we can’t simply have an ordinary toilet break any more. Perhaps some people are offended by the word ‘toilet’. Perhaps calling it a ‘comfort break’ made people actually feel uncomfortable. So, ladies and gentlemen of the office, ‘bio-break’ it is!
4. Ask – The verb ‘ask’ is fairly standard language but when used as a noun it becomes ‘office speak’. For example: “What is the ask here”. In normal language this could be replaced with a noun such as ‘request’.
5. Thought Shower – We used to ‘brainstorm’ in meetings but now we have ‘thought showers’. This is because ‘brainstorm’ was considered offensive by some groups so an alternative was needed. I wonder if they had a brainstorming session to come up with thought shower!
6. Touch base –This is a very common phrase which basically means ‘let’s have a chat about this’ e.g. ‘let’s touch base after the weekend’.
7. Forward planning – ‘Planning’ basically means to prepare for something in the future so adding ‘forward’ just emphasises the future part. I personally think the ‘forward’ bit is a little unnecessary.
Should I or shouldn’t I?
These phrases actually sound fine in the workplace and serve as a common language in some organisations. If they are being used by lots of people where you work and you feel comfortable using them, I think it is perfectly acceptable. I would however recommend being careful that they are not overused or employed when you could say it in a simpler way.
Test your Office Speak knowledge
Correctly complete the gaps in sentences 1 – 4:
- Shall we stop for a ____________?
- We can __________________ after the meeting rather than using valuable time talking about it now.
- We really should use a bit of ________________ here. We need to come up with some creative solutions.
- How about we _____________ tomorrow? I can fill you in on the progress I’ve made.
1 = bio-break
2 = take this offline
3 = blue-sky thinking
4 = touch base
„Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.” (Hamlet – Act II, Scene II) #ShakespeareLives