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Why you should mind your language in 2017

New research has found that the most annoying business cliché is "think outside the box", while "best practice" is the least offensive workplace phrase.

A poll by online retailer Kit Out My Office has identified the office jargon, clichés and business platitudes that are most likely to wind us up - as well as the phrases that cause no offence whatsoever.

The survey of 2,600 office workers in the UK has found that the top five most annoying phrases are:

  • Think outside the box
  • It's not rocket science
  • Amazeballs
  • Going forward
  • Can I just borrow you for a second?

Dr Julia Claxton, principal lecturer in leadership and organisational development at Leeds Beckett University, said that too much business jargon can damage morale in the workplace, leading to "hurt feelings, unclear goals and ambiguous strategies".

Office jargon is often used as a shorthand or to make a task seem bigger or better than it actually is, says Gareth Jones, business manager at Kit Out My Office. Business workplaces, he says, are a "breeding ground" for jargon. "Setting a collective New Year's Resolution in your office to stamp-out jargon in 2017 could definitely help to improve morale."

The five phrases that are least likely to annoy colleagues are:

  • Best practice
  • Thrown under the bus
  • No brainer
  • Cool beans
  • Move the goalposts.

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