Blue sky thinking, puppy punching and touching base - 10 office jargon phrases that need to die by close of play

Edith Hancock
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Executive on telephone
"I need some blue sky thinking on this thought shower. Don't make me punch a puppy!" (Source: Getty)

As anyone in the City knows, colleagues love a bit of blue sky thinking before close of play - and nothing beats touching base offline for a quick thought shower, unless of course none of you are singing from the same hymn sheet while you're trying to peel the onion.

If you understood and agreed with the above sentence, everyone in your office hates you - or that's according to a new study, at least.

The research, by Amba Hotels, asked 2,000 business travellers to rank their most hated business words and phrases. While everyone agreed "touching base offline" (meaning: let's talk), is the worst phrase ever, the study found men and women disagree over how much they hate certain bits of business jargon.

The Top 10 most hated office jargon phrases

  1. Touch base offline (to meet and talk)
  2. Blue sky thinking (empty thinking without influence)
  3. Punch a puppy (do something horrible for the greater good)
  4. Thought shower (brainstorm)
  5. Thinking outside the box (creative thinking)
  6. It's on my radar (I'm considering it)
  7. Close of play (end of the day)
  8. Singing from the same hymn sheet (all on the same page)
  9. Peel the onion (examine the problem)
  10. To wash its own face (to justify or pay for itself)

"Blue sky thinking" (i.e empty thinking without influence) came second, while the terrifying "punch a puppy" (to do something detestable for the good of the company) came third.

A comparison of the sexes revealed that overwhelmingly more women chose "punch a puppy" as their most hated phrase. Almost 30 per cent of women surveyed picked puppy-punching as the most vexing piece of vernacular, compared to 20 per cent of men.

Also making it into the top 10 is "peel the onion", which apparently means examining a problem.

Goldsmiths University behavioural expert Patrick Fagan looked into the psychological impact traditional business jargon has on those travelling for work.

Fagan said: “It was fascinating to see the emotional response that business travellers have to certain terms or phrases. While some feel repelled by certain words, and attracted to others, the majority of business travellers feel that many of the buzzwords have no concrete or effective meaning, or feel indifferent towards them.”

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