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A Guide to Everyday Office Lingo

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One thing you’re never explicitly taught is how to navigate within an office environment. Within the first week of working at a new job, you may realize coworkers use a handful of unfamiliar phrases during meetings or even casual conversations. While there’s no better way to learn than experiencing something first hand, it may be helpful to gain a familiarity to these phrases. before you throw yourself into a new business environment. Here is a guide to 16 of the most commonly used business phrases you’ll hear in an office setting and how they are used.

Bandwidth– The amount of time you have to do work, particularly work that was not originally yours. In context: Jason fulfills all receptionist duties; however, he doesn’t have the bandwidth to go on coffee runs for the whole office.

Ping – To send an email, text or call. To get in contact with. In context: Ping me when you get to the office so we can review what you missed at yesterday’s meeting.

Circle Back – To revisit a topic or assignment at a different time.

Deep Dive – An in-depth, detailed analysis which usually consists of numbers or other documents of detailed information. In context: Let’s take a deep dive on this company to see whether they are worth doing business with or not.

Take it Offline – Talk about a topic at a different time. This phrase is usually used when a meeting gets off topic or there are confidential matters to discuss.

Put a pin in it – Save for later; this phrase is used to tell someone to hold onto an idea so it can be discussed at a different time. In context: Let’s just put a pin in the company goals for next year so we can focus on doing the end of year financial reports.

Whitespace – An area of potential within an industry that a company doesn’t currently tap in to. An opportunity for business expansion. In context: In order to grow the company we must first identify the whitespace so that we can come up with strategies to target this field.

Action Items – Tasks that (typically) arise from a meeting, that require further action or work. Most can be done by a single person within a short time-frame.

Benchmarking – Comparing a company’s metrics to the industry’s best and their leading practices. In context: we took all of the company’s executive salaries and benchmarked them against the industry’s averages.

Low-Hanging Fruit – A problem that can be solved with ease or a business victory that takes little effort to achieve. In context: Before we get ahead of ourselves by trying to win-over reluctant candidates, let’s pick the low-hanging fruit by targeting candidates who have already showed interest in our company.

Run this up the Flagpole – Test out an idea in order to gauge interest or get constructive feedback before the idea is presented or implemented. In context: Before you show your boss the proposal, you might want to run it up the flagpole to make sure it’s a solid plan.

Pick Your Brain – Ask questions to someone who is more familiar with a topic in order to gain information. In context: Since I’m new to the marketing team let me pick your brain for some advertising ideas.

Wordsmithing – To edit a text with the purpose of changing clarity and structure rather than the actual content. In context: I thought you had great ideas in your proposal but let’s do some wordsmithing before we finalize a copy for our boss.

Buy-in – The act of accepting and committing to a concept or course of action. Often this means someone is willing to provide their support towards an idea. In context: Trying to get something done without your team members’ “buy-in” can be very difficult.

No-Brainer – A simple decision or task that requires little mental thought. In business context this is used to categorize an obvious decision. In context: Switching from expensive plastic straws to cheap compostable straws was a no-brainer considering the environmental and business benefits.

Hit the Ground Running – Promptly get started on a task and continue at full speed. In context: As soon as Sarah got approval for her campaign project, she hit the ground running.

This small guide to business lingo can give you a jump start to entering a new company. Being able to understand and utilize this language will quickly help acclimate in an office setting.

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