10 words never to say at the office

Flickr user tew

If you are just proactive and think outside the box, we can run this mission-critical project, bringing to the table the high-level learnings and actionable items we plucked like low hanging fruit after the elevator pitch that dictated our next steps.

OK, that hurt to write. I'm sure it hurt to read. But I bet you've heard several of those phrases in the past few days. (And if you haven't, I'm guessing you don't work in corporate America.)

What corporate jargon are you tired of? Career Builder asked 5000 workers what corporate buzzwords they'd like to see off the table. Here are the top (or bottom!) phrases that should be banished from the planet:

Outside the box (31%)
Low-hanging fruit (24%)
Synergy (23%)
Loop me in (22%)
Best of breed (19%)
Incentivize (19%)
Mission-critical (19 %)
Bring to the table (18%)
Value-add (17%)

Elevator pitch (16%)

One that didn't make the list but that drives me up the wall is "ask" as in "I have an ask for you." People, the word is "request." I have a request for you, and I need to ask you a question.

I'm not sure why these types of phrases get picked up and thrown around at corporate meetings. Some people think they originate in dark corners of human-resources departments, which makes sense because too many of us work harder at trying to sound smart than at actually being smart.

Somehow we got the idea that the right phrase will make our ideas sound better. And perhaps they do -- if you've got a boss who babbles about thinking outside the box, it makes sense to present your ideas as ones not confined within cardboard. Which leads me to a question? What's so darn bad about the box? Boxes are good. You can carry a lot more inside a box than outside. Things that fit inside a box are more easily mass produced than unique things anyway, and mass production can lead to profit. Seems to me that thinking within the box snags you some low hanging fruit.

Ahem, sorry. What words or phrases drive you up the wall?