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A word to the wise

Speaking a foreign language is a must in the modern workplace - but does it have to be office jargon? Gus from 'Drop the Dead Donkey' is not the only one addicted to meaningless buzzwords. Cutting-edge corporate-speak is as ubiquitous in construction as it is in all other sectors of British business.

As an antidote to the irritation of job-jargon, PR company Colette Hill has produced a hit list of words and phrases which it claims should be avoided at all costs. Some of those we at NCE love to hate include: empowerment (what it usually means is more work, less power); downsizing (redundancy - why wrap it up any other way? ); human capital (people - doh! ) and ownership - which usually means 'it's your fault if anything goes wrong' rather than the implied 'credit where credit's due'.

Another survey reveals mindnumbing examples of meeting speak, most of it imported from the US or taken from the Internet.

Highlights - or rather low points - include 'the full nine yards' (going the whole way), 'the helicopter view' (formerly 'seeing the big picture'), 'talk off-line' (discussing the issues after a meeting), and 'low-hanging fruit' (the easiest people to influence/sell to).

Probably the most ironic is 'sanity check' - which is meant to remind you to make sure that 'everything is as it should be'. Not if you're using language like this it isn't!

We know we've only scraped the surface with our examples of irritating workplace jargon, but if you know of others, ones that really wind you up - 'brown bagging' (meetings held over lunch) comes to mind at this point - then we'd love to hear from you.

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