Five common business phrases in English

Today I’m going to introduce five commonly used business phrases in English. These phrases can be described as “buzz phrases”… phrases that are commonly used – perhaps even overused – in English language-speaking environments.

Business buzz phrases

The following are English language phrases used in a business setting. If you work in an office in an English speaking country, you are bound to hear at least one of these common phrases in the near future… and eventually, you might even start using them yourself without realizing it! When a phrase is used too often, sometimes we call it a cliché – this is a French term, but it is used in English to denote something that is overused.

There are plenty of other phrases used commonly in the English language; let me know if you hear of any others in your workplace and I’d be glad to make posts about them.

On the same page

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Example:

Let’s go over the details of the assignment to make sure we’re on the same page.

Meaning:

People use on the same page to indicate that your understanding of something is the same as their understanding. If, for example, you think you’re supposed to complete one task, but your manager believes you’re supposed to be completing an entirely different task, your manager is going to end up disappointed and you’re going to have wasted your time working on the wrong task. Making sure you and your boss are on the same page before starting your work is very important!

Think out of the box

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Example:

This is a difficult problem! In order to solve it, we’re going to have to think out of the box.

Meaning:

Sometimes we tend to fall into the trap of trying to solve problems the same way. We have our own habits that dictate how we like to think. Thinking out of the box means trying to approach problems in a different manner – to move outside of our pre-defined “box” that defines the boundaries in which we usually work.

Six of one, a half dozen of the other

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Example:

To get there, we’re either going to have to take a train, or a plane… considering the tickets for the train and the plane cost about the same, it’s six of one, a half dozen of the other.

Meaning:

This phrase is used to indicate that two things are approximately equal. If you have two choices, and both of those choices are equally good (or bad!), it’s six of one, a half dozen of the other.

In English, a dozen equals twelve units, and a half dozen therefore equals six units. So in a sense, by using this phrase, you’re saying “six equals six”.

Let’s take it offline

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Example:

We’ve talked about this issue long enough… I’ll make a note of it in the meeting minutes, and we’ll take it offline.

Meaning:

Let’s take it offline is commonly used during team meetings when multiple people are involved. Often a question or an issue will come up that will spark considerable discussion among some of the meeting attendees, and sometimes these discussions can drag on (take a long time). If a discussion about a certain issue is taking up too much of the meeting time, someone might say “let’s take this offline” – in other words, let’s stop talking about this and discuss it later so that we can get back to our meeting agenda.

In case you’re not aware, meeting minutes are notes from a meeting. Normally one person is responsible for taking minutes (notes) of the meeting, and then distributing them, usually via email, to the meeting attendees afterward.

Thrown under the bus

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Example:

During the meeting, my co-worker blamed me for all of the problems our company has been having! He really threw me under the bus.

Meaning:

This is a fun phrase that unfortunately gets used quite often in business. When you throw someone under the bus, you’re not literally taking them and throwing them in front of a bus! What you’re doing is making them take the blame for something.

If your manager asks why something is broken, and you say “it’s Joe’s fault”, you’re throwing Joe in front of the bus – setting him up to take the blame for whatever is broken. It’s not a nice thing to do to a co-worker, so please find ways around resolving issues at work other than throwing your fellow employees under the bus!

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