Decoding 10 common ‘corporate speak’ phrases

Decoding 10 common ‘corporate speak’ phrases

Today, let’s delve into the intriguing realm of corporate language, deciphering the jargon-filled expressions that often leave us puzzled. Let’s unravel the meaning behind some of the most common (and confusing) phrases used in the corporate world.

“Let’s circle back”

Translation: This phrase is the corporate equivalent of “Let’s talk about this later.” It’s often used when someone wants to postpone a discussion, either because they need more information, or, let’s be real, they’re hoping everyone forgets about it by the time you “circle back.”


Translation: Ah, synergy. A word that conjures images of power teams and dynamic duos. In the corporate world, it’s supposed to mean the magic that happens when different departments or individuals work together exceptionally well. More often than not, though, it’s just a fancy way of saying, “Can’t everyone just get along and work together?”

“Think outside the box”

Translation: This one’s a classic. It means to think creatively or differently. However, when you hear this in a meeting, it’s usually corporate code for, “We’re out of ideas. Can someone please come up with something that hasn’t been tried before (but also isn’t too risky)?”


Translation: Originally a term from physics, in the corporate world, “leverage” has nothing to do with levers or fulcrums. Instead, it means to use something to its maximum advantage. When your boss says, “Let’s leverage our assets,” they’re essentially saying, “Let’s make the most of what we’ve got.”

“Touch base”

Translation: No, this has nothing to do with baseball. “Touch base” is simply a way of saying, “Let’s talk” or “Let’s catch up.” It’s the corporate version of checking in with someone without committing to a full meeting or conversation.

“Going forward”

Translation: This phrase is often used as a gentle (or not so gentle) way of saying, “Let’s not dwell on the past.” Whether you’ve just overcome a challenge or are changing direction, “going forward” signals a focus on the future — though it’s often used so much that its impact has become a bit diluted.


Translation: Once a term reserved for techies talking about internet speeds, “bandwidth” has crept into corporate speak to refer to a person’s capacity to take on more work. “I don’t have the bandwidth” is a polite way of saying, “I’m swamped and can’t possibly take on anything else without risking a meltdown.”

“Deep dive”

Translation: This phrase suggests a thorough examination or detailed analysis of a topic. When someone proposes to “take a deep dive,” they’re essentially saying, “Let’s look into this very closely, and hopefully, find something we missed the first hundred times.”


Translation: Borrowed from the basketball court, in the corporate arena, “pivot” means to make a significant change in strategy or direction. It’s a nicer way of saying, “Plan A was a bust, so let’s try not to make the same mistake with Plan B.”

“Low-hanging fruit”

Translation: This term refers to tasks or goals that are easily achievable. It’s often used to describe the first set of objectives to tackle, not because they’re the most important, but because they’re the most accessible. Essentially, it’s a way of saying, “Let’s do the easy stuff first and call it progress.”

The next time you hear one of these phrases, you can smile knowingly, understanding the true message behind the corporate speak. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to add a few playful translations of your own to the corporate lexicon. After all, a little linguistic creativity can go a long way in making the workplace a bit more colorful. S


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