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15 Business Speak Phrases: A Garden of Business Jargon

Updated: Feb 14

Flight of the Concords Guys Looking Very Annoying as they spout cliche business buzz words
It's Business Time

Admit it, sometimes you catch yourself spouting canned business speak clichés in a feeble attempt to look smart and buttoned up. We all do. Sometimes it’s harmless. Sometimes it’s downright excruciating for listeners on the receiving end of the buzz phrases.

This article is intended to be funny while hitting on some chords of truth. If you say one or several of these business speak phrases, it doesn’t imply you’re a bad person, it just slightly increases the chances that you might be. The following is a list, a garden if you will, of business jargon...

Proactive (The Genesis of Business Jargon/Business Speak Phrases)

The original, most overused business speak phrase that started it all. If your boss says something like “let’s take a more proactive approach, ok Bill?” it probably means you need more coffee. It could also mean “I have no idea what we should be doing, so let’s do it proactively.”

Let’s parking lot that

But Joni Mitchell, why would you want to pave paradise? The real translation is something like: “I’ve never wanted to avoid someone’s question this much, ever, so I’m going to write it down and put it over here so it goes away.”

Does that make sense?

“The launch was a failure and the root cause is shrouded in mystery. We need a SWOT analysis and at least four graphs a.s.a.p. Does that make sense?”

Of course not. How could it? I once spent five minutes staring at this phrase after I wrote it, and realized there is no other way to say this. Try to come up with something. You could say “are you breathing in what I’m burnin’?” or “are you picking up what I’m putting down?” but those are just too fun for the corporate world.

Circle back

Possibly the most passive aggressive thing anyone can say to another person. Has anyone every circled back and done something good? We’ll circle back on this one.

What we found...

Oh, you found something? How intriguing. Did the finding find you, or was it always found but merely unseen? Thanks Rumi for the poetic business speak phrases.

The 10,000 foot, helicopter, or tree top view

Do you live the clouds with the care bears? Obviously. And that’s fine.

Let’s take a step back

Translation: I find you so meek and pitiful that I’m willing to be overtly condescending to you in a group setting.

I’m a very visual person

So is everyone. That’s why we have eyeballs. It doesn’t make you special, although you really want to be.

We need to drive growth

Face it - all you can drive is your Kia. Stick to being practical and getting decent gas mileage as I blow past you with my Tesla. Wait, I don’t have a Tesla.

Where the rubber meets the road

Not with your Kia it doesn’t.

What might happen if…

You had an original idea instead of quoting YouTube videos over and over. The universe might implode.

Let’s think expansively

As opposed to being mired in myopia as usual. And then when I think expansively you’ll tell me to be more focused and strategic. How can I win here? Probably by using more business lingo.


Why is everyone suddenly using this word all the time? Do you have a philosophy degree like me? Are you well versed in Kant’s dialectic? Can you expound on Zeno’s Paradoxes extemporaneously? If not, then stick to woody dicots.

Low hanging fruit

You eat rotten bananas? I hope they’re organic.

I love data

You’re lying. This barely even counts as jargon because there's no effort at all. It's the business speak equivalent of "I love lamp."

In Closing

Business jargon is like a drug; I’m willing to admit I’ve used all of these examples at least once. The irony is that in order to avoid business speak, you need to master it. Sometimes just by owning it and having confidence when you spout business lingo, it comes across as authentic. Or am I talking out of both sides of my mouth (jargon alert)?

Are you fluent in business speak? I’m hoping for some “OMG, I hate that one!” type responses. Which terms or phrases did I miss? Any lingo trending in your office right now?

Be proactive and let me know in the comments, or I’ll circle back.


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