(Circle Back is an annoying business term and is just one of the 212 Most Annoying Business Phrases Managers Effuse, Confuse, and Overuse detailed in the hilarious must-have guide for every workplace: The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room. Available right now on Amazon.)
A circle, of course, is a circle. This means that if you’re going to circle back to something, you’re going to be right here… where you are right now… where you started your circle… back, right?
We understand when a manager asks someone to circle back, they mean to get back to them at some later date with some additional information. Circle back, then, does actually mean to come back to here; to circle back. This doesn’t mean it’s not annoying… or sometimes misused.
The best example of misuse is when the speaker simply intends to follow up. Certainly, you’ve experienced salespeople tell you they’re going to circle back with you, even though they don’t plan to gather more information in the meantime. They just failed to close you today, so they’re going to waste more of your time next week.
Circle back is used correctly when someone is going to move forward in a project or process, gather new information, and then come back (or circle back) to you with their findings. Unfortunately, those prone to use circle back begin to create circle back situations for everything.
We’re torn whether it’s the overuse or misuse of circle back that is the most annoying, so we’re not going to guess. We’re just going to declare it annoying and leave it at that.
Replacement phrases: Follow up; Get back in touch; Meet later
See also: Connect With
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon