The Everyman Guide: How to Speak ‘Business’

When you’re working in an office, every day is an adventure. There are many dangerous situations that have to be navigated on a daily basis: someone bringing a baby in, thinking of something to write in a “sorry you’re leaving card“, getting cornered by your line manager in the kitchen. If this wasn’t bad enough, most offices even have their own language: ‘business speak’ aka ‘corporate jargon’ aka ‘talking crap’. To really get to grips with a new language, you have to immerse yourself within it. With this in mind, I’ve spent a bit of time tailing Paul from sales, who is fluent in ‘workplace lingo’. Now I’m here to report back on my findings:

  • “Let’s touch base offline” Can we talk in real life? (Also translated as: my internet has stopped working)
  • “Put it on the backburner”I don’t care about that anymore please stop talking to me about it.
  • “Just want to make sure we’re singing from the same hymn sheet” Am I doing this right?
  • “It’s on my radar”I’m aware of it but don’t think it’s that good/important.
  • “We need blue sky thinking” Please come up with an idea, anything. I’m desperate.
  • “I’ve not got enough bandwidth” Please don’t give me anymore work.


Get those phrases under your belt and you’re halfway to being fluent. But if you really want to sound ‘in-the-know’, why not throw a few of your own phrases around the office, see if they catch on. Here’s some ideas:

  • “Let’s open the fridge and see what cheese smells the best”Try it and see what happens.
  • “Blue sky solutioneering” One level better than blue sky thinking.
  • “I’m taking a brief idealisational period” I’m thinking about it.
  • “Is the conceptual granularity too high?” Is this too obvious?
  • “Collaborise our synergy” Work together.
  • “Don’t scramble the eggs before the chickens have come home to roost” Don’t get ahead of yourself.


You’ll be getting that pay rise in no time…