Research reveals these work clichés make you sound out of touch

Almost half of Americans have a colleague they find difficult to work with due to their communication habits, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 remote and hybrid workers revealed some of these feelings might result from their co-workers’ use of workplace jargon.

The same percentage of respondents (45%) who have a co-worker they find difficult also dislike when colleagues use jargon, with terms like “give it 100%,” “think outside the box” and “team player” ranking in the top 10 most overused phrases.

Two-thirds of workers surveyed (63%) also said it’s off-putting when colleagues use workplace jargon in messages while communicating with them.

Commissioned by Slack and conducted by OnePoll, the results found that even though respondents dislike when others use jargon, they themselves aren’t immune.

Eighty-nine percent admit they use workplace jargon, and the top reason they do so is to sound more professional or intelligent — tied with trying to maintain office norms (both 43%).

Of those, 55% have caught themselves using phrases they’re personally tired of hearing.

Seventy-eight percent have stopped themselves from talking or sending a message to avoid using workplace jargon. Meanwhile, 83% have gone back and edited messages they’ve already sent to avoid these phrases.

But it’s not only workplace jargon that causes respondents to dislike communicating with their co-workers: the results found the level of formality can also have a huge impact — in a positive way.

It turns out using slang and abbreviations is encouraged. Seven in 10 prefer when their co-workers communicate informally or with slang versus staying strictly professional.

And that’s how they communicate, too. When using a messaging system, 38% of respondents use emojis, 36% use abbreviations and 33% use slang — alongside 31% who use GIFS and 24% who use all caps when indicating excitement.

“With 74% of respondents saying informal messages have made work feel more flexible and 71% noting it’s helped them to work more efficiently and productively, there should be little doubt that informal communication has evolved to become a mainstay of positive, inclusive and efficient workplace culture,” said Ali Rayl, senior vice president of product at Slack.

“Informal communication through modern collaboration platforms helps overcome perceived barriers between senior leadership and their employees; leads to transparent and informative discussions; and makes work more fun, allowing employees to express themselves and create a more welcoming work environment.”

The desire for informal communication has been especially true during the pandemic: 75% said showing their personality through work messages (using emoji, GIFs, etc.) has helped them better connect with colleagues while they’re not in the same office.

Seventy-three percent of respondents think informal work messages helped them navigate the transition to remote and hybrid work. This was especially true for younger employees: 80% of millennials agreed, compared to 60% of Gen X respondents.

Seventy-eight percent said work messages that use language beyond jargon and professional speak have made work feel more flexible, friendly and inclusive, with 82% of millennials vs. 68% of Gen Xers agreeing.

Millennials were also more likely to agree that informal messages helped them avoid miscommunications and better understand intent while working separately from their colleagues — 73% versus 57% of Gen Xers.

“In this new world of working where teams are distributed, it’s important to be thoughtful and intentional in how we choose to communicate with our co-workers of all backgrounds, locations and ages, to ensure they stay connected and engaged,” added Rayl. “With 72% of survey respondents hoping to continue to use informal work messages — instead of workplace jargon — going forward, we all need to consider which communication styles may be more effective with various co-workers.

“Being mindful of how we communicate, you can help foster a productive and connected workplace. This is why we have created tools to allow for text-based synchronous and asynchronous communication as well as audio and video.”


ASAP — 15%
Keep me in the loop — 15%
Just checking in — 14%
Team player — 14%
Give 110 percent — 13%
Sorry for the delay — 13%
New normal — 13%
No worries — 13% — tied
Touch base — 13% — tied
Think outside the box — 13% — tied
Loop me in — 13%
Back to square one — 13%
Circle back — 13% — tied
There’s no I in team — tied

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