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Are you guilty of using the most irritating phrase at work?

The modern workplace is full of annoying jargon, hackneyed clichés and tired turns of phrase

A survey conducted by online jobsite has unveiled the most annoying of them all – ‘Can I borrow you for a sec?’

While on the surface this might seem like a polite request to borrow someone’s time, it is not only misleading and inaccurate but is also apparently the most irksome thing you can hear during your working day. Not only did 41% of the 2,000 respondents say it was the most overused phrase in their office but also 13% named it the most frustrating saying. In second place for overuse was the saying ‘How long is a piece of string?’ (33%), followed by the footballing metaphor ‘To move the goalposts’ (28%).

The motivational phrase ‘teamwork, dreamwork’ was named joint second most annoying phrase alongside ‘win-win’ (9%), narrowly beating ‘blue sky thinking’ into third place.

Overall, 94% of those questioned by Reed said they were exposed to workplace jargon on a daily basis. Lynn Cahillane, Reed’s communications manager, said that while business jargon could help workers identify with colleagues, it could also prove one of the most irritating aspects of life in a modern corporate environment. She highlighted the fact that many companies are now trying to implement ‘jargon-free’ policies to make workplace conversation ‘easier to digest’, and said that some business jargon leaves employees feeling confused.

‘Dial it up’ was found to be the most widely misunderstood phrase in the workplace, with 42% of respondents believing it was code for ‘to make a phone call’, rather than ‘to amplify’. Close behind, the expression ‘What’s the red thread?’ left 41% of people baffled, with many believing it was an alternative to ‘What’s the risk?’ rather than its actual meaning of ‘What’s the running theme?’

A similar number thought ‘Let’s take it offline’ meant ‘Let’s discuss this face-to-face rather than by email’, with 42% failing to realise it was a request to discuss a sensitive subject in private.

The influence of social media on office speech patterns was also found to get people hot under the collar at work, with abbreviations such as LOL (laugh out loud), OMG (oh my God), IRL (in real life) and phrases including ‘on fleek’ proving particularly irksome.

While there is little sign that such coded verbal shorthand is going to disappear from the business world any time soon, you might just think twice before opening your mouth the next time you want to borrow a colleague for a sec.

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