Spending any amount of time in a UK office will expose you to a wealth of expressions and idioms used to help drive a point by a coworker or boss. Some may irritate you, some may sneak themselves into your own vocabulary. As Brits, we hold a lot of pride in euphemisms, metaphors and not saying what we really mean. However, many of the idioms you thought were from the British Isles, actually originate across the pond.
The British boardroom is littered with expressions such as “We shall circle back to that one” and “Lets park that idea for now”, many of us don’t really know the true meaning behind these phrases and how they have slipped into our business vocab.
But is this such a bad thing? The UK and USA share a great deal in common, and – as we know – there are many advantages to be gained by embracing the American culture and its market opportunities. So it would seem a shame to close the door on any linguistic additions that make their way across the Atlantic, wouldn’t it?
Studies show that, while British workers might sprinkle their vocab with the odd phrase or jargon, we actually can’t stand it when people use them and would rather they were just avoided all together.
Top eight technical jargon phrases and idioms you should avoid
Close of play
Essentially meaning at the end of the day; anyone who has a deadline focussed job will abhor this phrase but will inevitably find themselves using it when negotiating a finishing time.
Why can people not just say “We should have a chat” or “I need to talk to you”? What is all this discussion of touching base? Often used by a manager to notify staff they will expect a sitrep, but most definitely an irritating way of saying it.
Sing from the same hymn sheet
In an attempt to appear more cultured than at first glance, office workers will often require you to all be working with the same intention and end goal to complete a project; though why they cant just say “do we all understand” is beyond me.
Often a polite way of saying, “You have raised this point far too soon and I will cover it a little bit later”, circling back to a subject that you feel is important to you can be frustrating,
All our eggs in one basket
How very British. Essentially a way of delineating risk and the benefits of spreading said risk, through the use of chicken eggs.
Run before you can walk
A little condescending, this is used when someone in your meeting thinks you are moving too quickly and that you should slow down and consider your options more carefully. While it may be meant as a wise word to a hot-headed employee, it doesn’t often come across well.
Blue sky thinking
Many of us may be dreamers at work, spinning grand ideas to drive the business forward, ignoring logical or financial constraints and creatively improve a process. These are the blue sky thinkers. Some of us appear to be more pragmatic, bringing the thinkers crashing back down to earth.
Shoot the puppy
If someone at work tells you that you are the poor soul who is going to have to “shoot the puppy”, don’t immediately call the Animal Rescue Centre, you are simply designated with a task that you probably won’t enjoy, but will ultimately be beneficial to the company.
You’ll be interested to know that the last one about shooting puppies didn’t originate in the UK, but was actually an American idiom.
To help you grasp a more American vocabulary, check out the most unusual American business expressions below.