Top Seven Most Annoying Office Clichés

There’s a lot than can irk someone sat at the mind-numbingly boring office job for eight unending hours day after monotonous day. Whether it’s lack of toner in the office printer, a sandwich guy not coming to the office or a co-worker flooding your inbox with unfunny memes, every office has its fair share of annoyances and bothers. But what about those that aren’t often cited as the worst offenders – things people actually say in the office? Well, read on and find out, but beware: contents may be somewhat aggravating!

An interesting survey conducted a while back by on 2000 workers lists the most common – and most irritating – phrases bandied about at nearly every office in the UK. Some of them you may have heard ad nauseam already, but bear with us… Just for a moment!

Least irritating on the list is the perennial corporate idiom, „to pick sb’s brains„. Eight percent of respondents confess to being rubbed the wrong way by this particular turn of phrase. Is it a zombie thing? Is it about being nitpicky about being smart? Nobody knows, but everyone tries to pick your brain about it… I’ll thank you very much to just mind your own grey matter, sir!

6. But let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment and defend that phrase… Why demonize it so, if it only vexes eight percent of corporate drones? Well, people hell-bent on using it usually forget that devil’s in the details. That demonic presence you wish to stick a halo on is often quite deserving of being treated to some tar and pitchforks. It may be your unloved boss or that unreasonably demanding customer. Is objectivity worth going to the dark side? Perhaps, but we’re certainly not advocating that Faustian practice!

5. In the corporate world, you have to stay up-to-date, in the know, well-informed. But that loop, in which people seem to keep you? It already galls nine percent of white-collar workers, so it’s no longer a harmless coil or circle, it’s a verbal noose. Not going to hang out in it a moment longer than necessary!

4. The other 91 percent of the office plankton are still undecided whether to be angry or just slightly irritated at one of the most inane and overused clichés out there. It’s a no-win, zero-sum game when you say something is a win-win, trust us. Because no matter how hard you try to spin it, compromises are mostly agreements between two disappointed parties, not wins – certainly not for the both sides! To have a cake, you’ll have to abstain from eating it – sorry!

3. How long is a piece of string? Eleven percent of respondents took this very literally and tried to strangle the interviewer with whatever length of wire they were currently holding in their pocket. Why? … How long is a piece of string?

2. We’re nearing the top of the most-annoying list, so now’s a good time to take a chill pill to contain that mounting aggression inside you. Got it? Ok, let’s continue. So, before you get beside yourself with anger, you’ll have to think outside the box along with eleven percent of other respondents, who promptly rolled their eyes at hearing the first two words. Those that insist on releasing your reasoning from said container never seem to know what ‚the box’ really is. Not brainboxes, these people, that’s for sure; otherwise, they’d have avoided using that expression in the first place. Forget it… Just remove it from the box altogether, and then make the box vanish, too.

1. And, here it is, ladies and gents — the most annoyingly overused phrase of them all. Ready? No? Let me just borrow you for a quick sec… Or even thirteen; for the devil’s dozen of respondents are miffed with the famous and overused practice of leasing a person for a brief period of time. So why would you ‚borrow’ a colleague? Is he/she a thing? Oh sure, the company does refer to its employees asassets„, but do they mean that literally? Wait. Is Jeffrey in Testing is an actual, bona fide tool? We always suspected as much! Or was it a different meaning of „tool”? Fine. Borrow me all you want, but how about returning me with interest… Shall we say, putting me back after a week’s use in a pub, with a cold pint?

A thorn in one’s backside

You might consider yourself lucky if your office doesn’t have anyone throwing around these pearls of wisdom every single day. There’re, however, people who are basically walking clichés even more irritating than an occasional irksome remark. Let’s see if you recognize someone you know among the most annoying office types!

  1. The Braggart

Most often heard saying: „Been there, done that!”
Personality: He or she is modest to a fault, but backdoor brags? Purr-lease! He or she’s aced a seminar on backdoor bragging!

  1. The Cool Guy

Most likely to overuse the phrase: „Catch you on the flip side, bro!”
Personality: He’s the Dude of the office, but he’s way too cool to prove how little he cares for the sheeple… Though his deliberately faded t-shirt, suspiciously torn (but otherwise crispy clean) khaki shorts and a meticulous, though seemingly accidental ‚do betray just how much effort he put into maintaining that easy-going facade of a nonconformist.

  1. Actionman

Most likely action verbs to use: „Synergize the revenue streams,” „Punch in the numbers,” „Bang out an email,” „Run this by me.”
Personality: He or she tries very, very hard to channel the spirit of the corporation: he/she is energetic, eloquent and always smiling, even when firing people or… being fired him/herself.

  1. The Class Clown

Most often heard making: „Your momma” jokes, „Get a load of this guy” observations, A fool of himself (just enough to become likeable).
Personality: Anything he/she says must be hilarious. You can’t just say „hi”, it has to be „Ahoy me maties, har!” It can’t be just „I’ve done my tasks”, it has to be a „Bang-bang!” followed with a with a shot of the finger guns. Usually a deeply depressed person, a Class Clown tries to mask the emptiness inside with laughter. And surely enough, it sounds forced and hollow, coming from that void within.

  1. The Pontiff

Most definitely: Knows everything you do is wrong, and look, here’s how you should do it…
Personality: This Pontiff doesn’t just know his/her field, he/she’s an expert in yours, and in Dominic’s from IT, too. The worst thing? He/she’s always so darn helpful, but in actuality yes, you’ve thought about this golden nugget of an idea seconds after encountering your problem. Count yourself lucky if this also isn’t your boss… Micro-managers who also know everything are the bane of every office!

  1. Teacher’s Pet

Most likely to: brown-nose the boss and swipe your well-deserved promotion from right under your nose (which is not brown enough no matter how hard you try).
Personality: Backbiting and backstabbing are his or her two favourite practices, with an occasional denunciation of a colleague or two who don’t tow the company line. Mister or Missis Perfection is extremely well-versed in corporate politics and hierarchy, so don’t even think of going over their heads with anything.

  1. Office Jerk

Most likely: to die under suspicious circumstances in a freak photocopier accident.
Personality: Remember the Office? Remember the boss there? Well, this guy (or gal) is much, much worse. He or she is a pain in everyone’s behind, but most of all is extremely unlikable. Despite that he or she blindly thinks they’re the soul of the office, the most affable and most relatable person there, a sort of glue that holds the team together. In a way, it’s true; nothing brings people closer than a common enemy. You’ve got one in your office, right? If not… Perhaps it’s you?

Not irate enough yet?
Oh, so you’re sticking around, are you, despite seeing all of that nuisance grouped in one place? Well, look at you! Ok, all right. So, how about for dessert we give you a look at the most annoying things people DO at the office, just as a small bonus?

7. Whistling, singing, especially if you’re the only one in good mood. And how dare you, really? It’s Monday! Solemn, barely contained yawns is what this day is all about!

6. Playing loud music (e.g. Taylor Swift or Adele) over the speakers in the open-plan office. Yeah, Louise, we get it, you’re in touch with your inner teen. Good for you! Now be a good forty-three-year-old and plug in your headphones!

5. Leaving unwashed mugs. Unless you work at a bioweapon lab where you absolutely need to grow small civilizations of spores and fungi, just wash your coffee holder! It’ll only take a minute… Unless the bottom of your cup has last seen light of day back in ’06. Then, perhaps, it should promptly join the noxious shrimp and eye-watering Limburger in the bottomless pit of the office trash bin?

4. Leaving no toilet paper in the loo. How would you like it if you had the trots and there was naught but a lonely cardboard tube lazily swaying on a peg in the privy? It’s elementary office savoir vivre!

3. Eating smelly food, particularly eggs, sauerkraut, cabbage (yuck!). And no, it’s not the case of „fight fire with fire„. Just cause your office nemesis brought in a pound of almost-but-not-quite fresh cocktail shrimp for that all-important midday pick-me-up doesn’t mean you HAVE TO follow it up with a wedge of gourmet Limburger cheese!

2. Microwaving said food… Need I say more?

1. Loud chewing and swallowing food. Bonus points: it’s the same smelly food you’ve heated up in the microwave earlier. Sadly, this is one thing that nearly every one of us has been guilty of, at one point or another. Here’s a tip: eat when no-one’s looking! As an added incentive, you can binge on your secret stash choccy with no-one the wiser. It’s a win-win… Oh right. Too soon? Still too annoying? Ooops. Well, let’s leave you at that, then…

But just in case, here’s a bunch more!


to irk sb – irytować kogoś, drażnić
mind-numbingly – otępiająco
unending – niekończący się
to flood sth – zatapiać coś, zalewać (czymś)
to have one’s fair share of sth – doświadczyć całkiem sporo czegoś, mieć dośc dużo czegoś
annoyance – kłopot, utrapienie
bother – kłopot, problem
the worst offender – największy winowajca
to beware – ostrzegać
contents – zawartość
aggravating – irytujący, nieznośny
survey – badanie, ankieta
to conduct sth – przeprowadzić coś
to bandy sth about – sypać czymś (słowa, powiedzonka), rzucać
ad nauseam – do znudzenia
to bear with sb – nie gniewać się na kogoś, wybaczać komuś (coś, co ktoś zrobi)
perennial – odwieczny, wieczny
to pick sb’s brains – wypytać kogoś (o coś), przekonsultowac (coś) z kimś (pot.)
respondent – ankietowany
to confess to doing sth – wyznać, że się coś robi
to rub sb the wrong way – dać się komuś we znaki, nadepnąć na czyjś odcisk
turn of phrase – wyrażenie
nitpicky – szukający dziury w całym, czepialski
I’ll thank you very much to… – ja przepraszam, ale…, wypraszam sobie, ale…
grey matter – szare komórki, substancja szara (UK)
to play devil’s advocate – występować jako adwokat diabła, zająć hipotetycznie/na chwilę drugą stronę
to demonize sth – demonizować coś
to vex sb – irytować kogoś, drażnić
corporate drone – korpolud, pracownik korporacji
hell-bent on (doing) sth – zdecydowany na coś/coś zrobić
devil’s in the details – diabeł tkwi w szczegółach
to stick sth on sb – wsadzić coś na kogoś, nasadzić
deserving of sth – zasługujący na coś
to treat sb to sth – zafundować coś komuś
tar – smoła
pitchfork – widły
unreasonably – nadmiernie, w zbyt wygórowany sposób
demanding – wymagający
objectivity – obiektywność
to advocate sth – popierać coś, orędować za czymś
Faustian – faustyczny, faustowski
up-to-date – aktualny, na czasie
(to be) in the know – (być) dobrze doinformowanym
to keep sb in the loop – informować kogoś na bieżąco
to gall sb – irytować kogoś
white-collar – umysłowy (pracownik)
harmless – nieszkodliwy
coil – zwój, krąg
noose – pętla
to hang out somewhere – spędzać gdzieś czas (pot.)
office plankton – plankton biurowy, korporacyjni pracownicy (pot.)
inane – pusty, niedorzeczny
overused – zbyt często używany
cliché – wyświechtany frazes, banał
a no-win game – gra, w której nie ma wygranych
a zero-sum game – gra, w której jeśli ktoś wygra, druga osoba musi przegrać
sth is a win-win – coś jest dobre dla wszystkich
to spin sth – ukazać coś w lepszym świetle (pot.)
to abstain from doing sth – powstrzymać się przed (z)robieniem czegoś
how long is a piece of string… – trudno powiedzieć…, tego nie wiedzą nawet najstarsi Indianie… (odpowiedź na pytanie o to, jak duże coś jest, gdy nie jesteśmy pewni, ile czasu coś zajmie itp.)
literally – dosłownie
to strangle sb – udusić kogoś
length of wire – kawałek druta/przewodu
to take a chill pill – dać sobie luz, uspokoić się
to contain sth – powstrzymać coś, ograniczyć
mounting – rosnący, narastający
to get beside oneself with anger – nie posiadać się ze złości
to think outside the box – myśleć nieszablonowo
promptly – natychmiast
to roll one’s eyes – przewracać oczami
to insist on doing sth – upierać się przy (z)robieniu czegoś
to release sth – wypuścić coś, uwolnić
reasoning – myślenie
said – rzeczony, wspomniany
brainbox – geniusz, bystrzak (pot., UK)
in the first place – od samego początku
to vanish – zniknąć
gent – pot. o panu, dżentelmenie
to borrow sb for a quick sec – porwać kogoś na chwilkę, zabrać (gdy prosi się kogoś o słowo na osobności i zabiera go z grupy)
devil’s dozen – trzynastka
miffed – zły, obrażony (pot.)
brief – krótki
to refer to sb as sb – opisywać kogoś (jakimś słowem), nazywać kogoś kimś/jakimś
assets – majątek, wartościowe przedmioty
bona fide – autentyczny, z prawdziwego zdarzenia
tool – tu: bęcwał, pajac (pot.)
with interest – z odsetkami, z nawiązką
pint – pinta, tu: piwko (pot., UK)
a thorn in sb’s backside – wrzód na czyimś tyłku
to consider oneself X – uznawać się za X
pearl of wisdom – perełka mądrości, złota myśl
irksome – irytujący
remark – uwaga
braggart – chwalipięta
been there, done that – już to przechodziłem/am, to już było
to be X to a fault – być aż zanadto X
backdoor brag – zawoalowane chwalenie się
Purr-lease! – ależ proszę! no błagam! (iron.)
to ace sth – być mistrzem w czymś
catch you on the flip (side)! – do zobaczyska! trzym się! (pot., slang.)
dude – koleś, facet
sheeple – pogardliwie o motłochu, bezwolnych masach
deliberately – celowo
faded – wypłowiały
suspiciously – podejrzanie
crispy – tu: wyprasowany, wykrochmalony
torn – podarty
to betray sth – zdradzać coś
to maintain sth – zachować coś, utrzymać
facade – fasada
easy-going – niefrasobliwy, na luzie
nonconformist – nonkonformista
to synergize sth – synergizować coś
revenue stream – źródło przychodu
to punch sth in – wklepać coś, wbić (dane do komputera)
to bang sth out – tu: naklepać, wysmażyć (email, pismo etc.)
to run sth by sb – spytać kogoś o opinię, poprosić o czyjąś akceptację (pot.)
to channel sth – przenosić coś, emanować (czymś)
get a load at/of this guy… – popatrz no na tego (kolesia, faceta itp.) (pot., slang.)
to make a fool of oneself – zrobić z siebie głupca, wyjść na głupka
likeable – lubiany
matie – koleżka, koleś (pot., slang.)
finger gun – pistolety (z ułożonych palców)
emptiness – pustka
forced – wymuszony
hollow – pusty
void – pustka
pontiff – pontyfik, tu: ważniak, ktoś, kto wie wszystko
darn – cholernie, strasznie (pot., slang.)
golden nugget – złoty samorodek
to encounter – napotkać
the bane of sth – zmora czegoś, plaga
teacher’s pet – pupilek nauczyciela
to brown-nose sb – podlizywać się komuś, przymilać do kogoś (pot., slang.)
to swipe sth – podwędzić coś, skraść
backbiting – obmawianie, obgadywanie
backstabbing – wsadzanie noża w plecy
denunciation – denucjacja
to tow the company line – robić co spółka przykazała, nie wychylać się
well-versed in sth – doskonale z czymś zaznajomiony, świetnie w czymś obeznany (pot., US)
to go over sb’s head – pójść do kogoś wyżej postawionego (omijając kogoś), zrobić coś za czyimiś plecami
jerk – palant, cymbał
circumstances – okoliczności
freak accident – dziwny wypadek
gal – dziewczyna (pot.)
a pain in sb’s behind – wrzód na czyimś tyłku
despite – pomimo
blindly – ślepo, święcie (przekonany o czymś)
affable – przyjazny
relatable – ktoś, z kim łatwo się utożsamić
to bring sb closer – zbliżać kogoś do siebie
common enemy – wspólny wróg
irate – zagniewany, wzburzony
to stick around – poczekać gdzieś, zostać gdzieś dłużej
nuisance – utrapienie, kłopot
dessert – deser
to dare to do sth – mieć czelność, tupet coś zrobić
solemn – uroczysty, pełen powagi
barely contained yawn – ledwo powstrzymane ziewnięcie
open-plan office – open space, otwarta powierzchnia biurowa
to be in touch with sth – być w kontakcie z czymś, pielęgnować (coś w sobie)
inner – wewnętrzny, własny
fungi – grzyb, grzyby
noxious – trujący, obrzydliwy
shrimp – krewetka
eye-watering – koszmarny, przyprawiający o łzy
bottomless – bezdenny
pit – jama
loo – kibel (UK)
the trots – biegunka, rozwolnienie
naught – nic, zero (arch.)
to sway – kołysać się
peg – kołek
privy – wychodek, tu: kibel
sauerkraut – kiszona kapusta
yuck! – obrzydlistwo! ech! (z wyrazem obrzydzenia)
to fight fire with fire – klin klinem wybijać
nemesis – nemezys
all-important – arcyważny
midday – południowy
pick-me-up – coś na wzmocnienie (np. kieliszek, przekąska itp.)
to follow sth up with sth – poprawić coś czymś, wziąć/zjeść coś po czymś
wedge – klin (serowy)
gourmet – delikatesowy, wyborowy (o jedzeniu)
guilty – winny
added incentive – dodatkowa zachęta
to binge on sth – zajadać się czymś (niezdrowym)
secret stash – sekretny schowek (na jedzenie, szczególnie słodycze)
choccy – czekolada (pot., UK)
with no-one the wiser – tak, że nikt nic nie wie/nikt o niczym się nie dowie

by Prochor Aniszczuk

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