“Not quite a cliché, not quite a term of art, a buzzword is a profound-seeming phrase devised by someone important to make something sound better than it is,” my colleague Olga Khazan wrote in February.
Jargon such as pain points and pushback can be a much-derided feature of many workplaces. Even when so much of the country is working from home, this corporate lingo still grates.
It’s like ASMR, “but instead of giving you those relaxing tingles, it just makes your skin crawl and puts a chill down your spine,” Heath Barker noted. He’s one of many readers who wrote to us to share their revulsion with corporate-speak—and to catalog the flaws of the words that irked them most. “I can’t stand the word ‘team’ anymore. And screw ‘please advise,’” Adrian Xavier Tristan wrote. “I have nightmares because of low-hanging fruit,” Neha Bawa confessed. “If there is not a suitcase involved, I don’t want to hear UNPACK,” Patrice English declared.
To pin down the most-universally hated corporate buzzwords, I combed through reader replies on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to compile a comprehensive list of terms and organized them into a March Madness–style Twitter bracket. Every day for the past several weeks, readers have voted in polls pitting the most annoying examples of office-speak against one another. Close the loop faced loop in. Win-win battled buy in. In one of the closest matches, silo claimed a narrow victory over optics.