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Things you don’t want to hear at work

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Aditi Sharma Kalra can no longer hold her tongue when it comes to the inane things people say at work.

“Let’s deep dive into those value-added solutions that you propose to bring to the table for a cutting-edge conversation by EOD.” Ever come out of a meeting feeling like nothing made sense?

Corporate jargon is so common that we rarely stop to think about how clichéd, unclear or overused business buzzwords actually are. It’s always fun to take a step back, pause, and look back at some of the words or phrases that we’re all probably tired of hearing at work, and even add some lesser-heard ones to the list.

So we reached out to some of our HR fraternity friends to come up with a loose ranking, and here are some of the choicest phrases that tend to derail productive conversations.

Sydney-based managing director of specialist recruitment firm 2discover, Catherine Eyre, has heard her fair share of unnecessary phrases, having previously worked in large corporates.

“I cringed every time my peers would use words and expressions like, ‘I don’t have optics on that yet’ or ‘let’s socialise that paper’ to which I once responded, ‘what if the paper is antisocial‘,” she remarks. Some of the other common ones, much to her chagrin, are “cascading of information” and “I will revert” – how about saying I will come back to you instead?

As part of keeping it busy in business, it’s fashionable to rush for things and say that ‘I need this yesterday‘ – jokingly or otherwise.

She has also noticed that a number of people tend to use “correct” rather than a simple yes, which is quite reminiscent of school days when we’d raise our hands and manage to give out the right answer.

More great examples came to us from self-professed content nerd Titien Ahmad, founder of content strategy and B2B marketing firm, 3Degrees.

“My main beef is around deadlines. As part of keeping it busy in business, it’s fashionable to rush for things and say that ‘I need this yesterday‘ – jokingly or otherwise,” she says. Evidently, this does not give the recipient any room to prioritise, plan their work day and dedicate a proper slice of time to work on whatever task is needed. As a result, shoddy work can get passed on and more time is spent trying to fix it.

One line that she has heard, and appreciated, is: “How much time do you need to do a good job?”. This sets the expectation towards quality delivery and provides an opportunity to agree on a deadline together. She says: “At the end of the day, we’re not all neurosurgeons working against time to save a life. We’re just trying to get work done well and on time!”

Talking about getting the job done well, Eyre goes back to a previous role where she was responsible for improving the corporate tone to make things easy to understand. Her biggest advice from that experience? Keep communication clear and simple.

Say what you mean and avoid filling sentences with additional words to make yourself sound important.

“Say what you mean and avoid filling sentences with additional words to make yourself sound important. The best way to impress people is to be a good listener and respond clearly and simply,” she says. For example, replace “going forward” with “in the future”; use “I will respond to you” rather than “I will revert” or “I will think over this and reply with comments tomorrow”.

Before we sign off, a special mention goes out to an exceptionally annoying thing overheard by one of Eyre’s business associates: “Her leader had said, ‘I need a throat to choke’ to a room full of women.” Definitely inappropriate and a hundred shades of wrong on so many levels.

There is nothing worse than the corporate speak that we all tend to use – let’s try our best to declutter our language and say what we really mean!

Photo / StockUnlimited

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Aditi Sharma Kalra

Human Resources Magazine Singapore
When not spending her time eating or watching dog videos, Aditi loves to read, write, and tweet about HR. She is managing print, digital and social content for Human Resources, across Singapore and Malaysia.

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