What Talking You? Job Lingo

Walking into your first job is an intimidating experience. You encounter new faces, processes, and an unfamiliar office culture, and you wonder if you’ll be able to fit into this new environment. Fear not! Mastering some office lingo can help you navigate your first days and weeks on the job with more confidence.  While the overuse of jargon can also become problematic, you really can’t avoid using some.

Even if you’re already working, you may require a quick refresher! We’ve included some interesting terms too.

But, Why Use Jargon in the Workplace?

The use of corporate jargon is common in workplaces for several reasons.

Jargon helps foster a sense of community and belonging within an organization. Using shared terms and acronyms can make employees feel part of the “in-group” and give them a sense of identity as part of that company’s culture. This can boost morale and encourage collaboration between co-workers.

It also streamlines communication by acting as shorthand. Rather than constantly explaining the meaning behind every term, jargon allows employees to efficiently convey concepts and information to one another.

Third, jargon reinforces corporate branding and key messages. When an organization uses the same terms repeatedly, those phrases become ingrained in the minds of employees. This repetition can help promote the company’s mission, values, and priorities. For example, calling customers “members” or “clients” reflects a service-oriented culture.

Commonly Used Phrases

Let’s begin with some of the most basic jargon you’ll likely hear your colleagues utter (and may have used during your studies)! Some are easy to get, like:

– “Touch base”

    • To make brief contact, often to check in or discuss something quickly. It is an informal way of saying “get in contact. ” For example, ” Let’s touch base later this week! “

– “Ballpark figure”

    • An approximate estimate.

– “Circle back”

    • return to a previous topic or discussion, at a later time

– “Onboarding”

    • Familiarise a new employee or client with the company processes and or/product. Sometimes used interchangeably with “orientation”

– “Low-hanging fruit”

    • Easy opportunities or solutions that don’t require much effort

– “Bandwidth”

    • Capacity to take on tasks/work

– “Deck”

    • Another name for a presentation or slides that market a product or service or provide information to interested prospective clients (also known as “prospects”)

– “Action items”

    • Tasks assigned to individuals during a meeting that need to be completed before the next meeting. Similarly, “actionable” is used to describe tasks that can be started on

“Hard stop”

    • A timing by when a meeting/activity must conclude. Often used when team members have upcoming meetings or work to complete


Others, though, maybe not so much. Here are some you may only hear once in a blue moon (or more often, depending on your industry):

– “Churn”

    • It comes from the term “churn rate”, which refers to the percentage of customers or clients that stop using a product or business services over a specific time period. You may also hear companies using “attrition rate”

– “Dry Promotion”

    • A title change or salary increase without an actual change in job responsibilities. Companies may offer dry promotions as a way to boost employee morale and retention when budgets are tight

– “Garden Leave”

    • Garden leave means an employer requests for an employee to stay home during the notice period. The employer pays the employee’s salary as usual but the employee does minimal to no work. This allows the employer to reduce risks, such as the employee’s access to sensitive information and clients. The exact terms of this leave will differ from company to company

– “Close of Play”

    • This refers to the end of the workday or working hours. It is often used in the context of saying “I’ll get back to you by the close of play today.” Sometimes, it’s used instead of “end of day” to be clear about the differences.

Other Phrases

– “Voluntold”

    • A combination of “volunteer” and “told”. Basically, you have been volunteered to do something. Often, it’s a task nobody really wants

– “Take this offline”

    • Think this means taking a discussion out of Zoom into a physical meeting? Wrong! It means that the topic someone is discussing could be off-topic or that the individual feels that you shouldn’t pursue this topic further

As you go along, you’ll pick up even more office lingo through simple exposure and experience on the job. Don’t hesitate to ask your colleagues if Google isn’t able to help! You’ll be good with all these terms in no time.


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