Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Keep me in the loop, take offline: Workplace jargon that stumps Indians the most

A LinkedIn-Duolingo study highlights how unfamiliar phrases can hinder productivity and create a sense of isolation, especially for newcomers

Anubhuti Matta
Published: Jun 13, 2023 04:07:54 PM IST
Updated: Jun 13, 2023 04:33:01 PM IST

Keep me in the loop, take offline: Workplace jargon that stumps Indians the mostThirty-seven percent of professionals say figuring out the meaning of workplace jargon made them feel left out of conversations, ultimately affecting their productivity and stress levels. Image: Shutterstock

In India’s ever-evolving work environment, employees are often confused or overwhelmed by workplace jargon, reveals a study by LinkedIn and Duolingo, a language learning platform.

‘Keep me in the loop’, which means keeping someone informed or updated on a topic, is the most confusing phrase, found the survey of 1,099 workers in India. ‘Take offline’, which means to discuss something away from a virtual meeting and in an in-person setting, is the second-most confusing jargon, followed by ‘win-win situation’ and ‘core competency’.

Unfamiliar jargon can hinder productivity and create a sense of isolation, especially for newcomers, says Karan Kapany, country marketing manager, Duolingo.

 The 10 most confusing workplace jargon:


1. Keep me in the loop
2. Take offline
3. Win-win situation
4. Core competency
5. Value-add
6. Drill down
7. Synergy
8. Value proposition
9. Paradigm
10. Circle back

Thirty-seven percent of professionals say figuring out the meaning of workplace jargon made them feel left out of conversations, ultimately affecting their productivity and stress levels.  

More than half of Indian professionals, or 58 percent, said they have made a mistake at work because they didn't know the meaning of the jargon or have misused it; 81 percent, on the other hand, believe that workers with a better understanding of work-related phrases or words can get ahead due to promotions or raises. 

“Linguistic habits and preferences vary greatly in India and across the world. So, when you're working with teams that have different functions, are spread across borders, or come from diverse cultures, it's crucial to use simpler and more inclusive language so there’s less or no room for misinterpretation,” says Nirajita Banerjee, LinkedIn career expert and managing editor, India.

Also read: Almost 60 percent Indian women worried about rights, financial security at the workplace

As digital natives who have grown up with a unique set of communication styles, 60 percent of Gen Z and 63 percent of millennials find it challenging to decipher the hidden meanings and nuances behind these seemingly simple phrases. Gen Z is defined as the cohort of people going to reach 25 years of age, while millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996. These two groups of workers feel that workplace jargon can lead to a breakdown in communication and cause confusion. Despite that, it is the millennials (39 percent) and Gen Z (36 percent) who confess to using it all the time. They claim they are so habituated to incorporating this jargon, they barely realise they are using it.

This raises an important question: What makes jargon an integral part of workplace culture in India? Close to half or 43 percent of the Indian workforce says that using jargon makes them feel professional and smarter; 33 percent of respondents also say that it helps simplify communication.

However, to navigate the professional world successfully, 71 percent of Indian workers want to eliminate or reduce the use of workplace jargon, found the study. “By avoiding too much jargon and using clear language, we create an environment where everyone feels more included, which leads to greater productivity, stronger teams, and a positive work culture,” says Banerjee.

The 10 workplace jargon that Indians want cancelled:

1. Give your 110%
2. Move the needle
3. Low hanging fruit
4. New normal
5. Growth hacking
6. Think outside the box
7. Touchbase
8. Keep me in the loop
9. Win-win situation
10. Circle back