Half of Geordies don’t know what these corporate slang words mean!

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In a new survey, workers in the North East share the office buzzwords they secretly hate, and how they make them feel

Whether it’s ‘circling back’, ‘reinventing the wheel’ or ‘blue sky thinking’, as a worker in the UK you will either love or hate corporate lingo.

Google searches for ‘corporate slang’ have increased 23% over the last three months, with a whopping 129% increase compared to last year, and according to new survey data collected by tombola, two-thirds (66%) of the British population admitted to using corporate jargon regularly.

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The research revealed that up to half of Newcastle weren’t familiar with phrases such as “synergise” and “move the needle”, whilst there were personal favourites with “hit the ground running” and “touch base”, and one in 12 (8%) admitting they were familiar with all the corporate jargon presented to them.

Office workers discussing ideas in a meetingOffice workers discussing ideas in a meeting
Office workers discussing ideas in a meeting

Survey respondents were asked for their knowledge on a list of 18 common corporate buzzwords and how likely they were to understand all the phrases, along with how the phrases made them feel.

The top five LEAST understood corporate phrases in Newcastle:

Synergise – 49%

Blue sky thinking – 47%

Glossary of corporate jargon termsGlossary of corporate jargon terms
Glossary of corporate jargon terms

Move the needle – 46%

Low hanging fruit – 45%

Compare apples to apples – 41%

The survey revealed the most used phrase is ‘hit the ground running’ which means to begin something energetically and successfully, according to The Free Dictionary, whilst the most hated phrase is ‘low hanging fruit’, which means something that is easy to obtain or achieve.

The top five MOST USED corporate phrases in Newcastle:

Hit the ground running – 16%

Touch base – 16%

Re-inventing the wheel – 12%

Get the ball rolling – 11%

Synergise – 6%

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Over three quarters of Brits don’t know what their colleagues are talking about

No matter the industry you work in, it is inevitable that words and phrases will be thrown around that feel confusing or make you cringe.

And no matter which side of the fence you sit on, it’s clear that even the savviest of Geordies feel confused by jargon.

In the survey, most working Brits (87%) said they are faced with jargon they don’t understand on a daily basis – that's roughly 46.7 million people, with Newcastle sitting 5% higher than the national average.

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On average, three in ten (30%) Geordies admitted they feel stupid or embarrassed when corporate phrases they don’t understand are used in conversation in the workplace.

Interestingly, a quarter (25%) would say nothing at the time, but then go away and Google the phrase they didn’t understand.

One in six Geordies (16%) also believe that their lack of understanding when it comes to corporate slang has affected their chances of earning either a promotion or a pay rise – ouch!

In addition to this, a further one in six (17%) feel as though their lack of corporate buzzword understanding hinders their ability to speak up in meetings!

The top five HATED corporate phrases in Newcastle:

Low hanging fruit – 20%

Blue sky thinking – 18%

Touch base – 14%

Open door policy – 12%

Bang for buck – 10%

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Expert says leaders should be “inclusive” with language and encourages workers to “ask questions”

Psychologist and Certified Coach, Ruth Kudzi, commented: “It is common to feel embarrassed if people use terms or jargon that we don’t understand, particularly if it is in a professional setting. The psychological reasoning behind this is because the panic of not understanding something someone says induces a ‘fight or flight’ state, where we feel irritated with ourselves or anxious about how we are being perceived externally. This feeling is amplified when in a group setting or put under pressure one-on-one.

“It is normal for people within a sector or company to have certain words for tasks or processes, but it’s important for leaders to be inclusive with their language and keep things simple. Likewise, if you don’t understand certain words, the best course of action is to ask your colleagues questions, as this will help to break down the jargon barriers.”

On the findings, Samantha Wilcox, SEO and Digital PR Manager at tombola, said: “The survey results prove that some Geordies use corporate jargon as part of their everyday language in the workplace, but there are many people who are compl

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“According to the research, there is a perception that workers that don’t understand office jargon are less likely to progress at work, with women feeling particularly left behind.

“Learning a whole new set of vocabulary can be time consuming, particularly on top of a day job, so we’ve created the ultimate corporate crib sheet to help people out. If you’re left feeling confused like the rest of the nation, hopefully this should help!”

For more information on the findings and navigating jargon in the workplace, visit: https://www.tombola.co.uk/tombola-talks/the-uks-most-common-corporate-buzzwords-and-their-meanings