Imagine this: it’s Monday morning. You’ve only taken a couple of sips of your coffee when your colleague pings you: Hey Jarrod, I just want to follow up from our chat last week. I agree with you, but there are a couple of moving parts. At the end of the day, we need to give it 110%. Let’s take it offline. My door is always open. Okay, hands up if your blood pressure spiked just reading those words. While the business lingo was exaggerated, we can’t underestimate how grating these buzzwords are – not to mention they don’t make you sound very smart (quite the opposite, actually). Overusing business clichés directly affects your work performance because it decreases the credibility of our input, as your words start to lose meaning and impact. Also, it damages company culture in enabling empty communication and laziness within the team, which is especially true for a startup company.
Read on to see what our most-hated buzzwords are, and what you can try instead. Are we missing one? Let us know the business clichés you can't stand in the comments below!
“To be fair.” – A phrase than can be omitted 100% of the time, as its overuse has removed all meaning.
Try this: “I like him” instead of “to be fair, I do like him”
“Take it offline.” – What’s the point of using this phrase when you should be specific about the follow up anyway?
Try this: “Let’s discuss at our meeting tomorrow, I’ll drop by your desk later, etc.”
“Move the needle.” – Instead of using this phrase, dive straight into the action points.
Try this: “We need to try [x] if we want to turn a profit by the end of the year” instead of “We need to try something different if we want to move the needle”
“No-brainer.” – It may be a no-brainer to you, but not to others. Also, it can sound condescending at times as well.
Try this: “This is a step I believe we must take because [X].
“My door is open.” – Are you actually as accessible as you claim? If you are, then be specific with your offer.
Try this: “I’m happy to discuss this in person tomorrow.”
“Moving parts.” – Sounds like a copout, is a copout. Take the time to explain your dilemma, they’ll understand.
Try this: “We don’t have the resources to take on this project at this time” instead of “There are just some moving parts right now”
“At the end of the day.” – This is just the worst, and we’re all guilty of it. Can we just cut this out of our vocabulary already?
Try this: Simply don’t use this phrase. Your point will turn out to be the same, trust me.
“Raise the bar.” – Is there a business out there that doesn’t want to raise the bar?
Try this: “Introducing this product will without a doubt elevate our offerings above that of our competitors” instead of “We need to raise the bar if we want to be heard”
“I have a lot on my plate.” – Is that roast beef or mash?
Try this: I’ve been very busy.
“Give it 110%.” – A pep talk so inane that it’s better off not saying anything at all.
Try this: As always, I expect great things from everyone on this project.
“Manage expectations.” – Another copout.
Try this: I’m not ready to take this on.
“Think outside the box.” – It’s simply overused.
Try this: How can we get a fresh perspective on this issue?
“Circle back.” – This is another way of saying that the meeting you just attended accomplished nothing.
Try this: We’ll revisit this next week. In the meantime, please prepare by [X].
“On my radar.” – Another way of saying that you’re aware of the issue, but will make no effort to address it.
Try this: I’m aware of this, but unfortunately cannot take action until [X].
“Low hanging fruit.” – Again, it’s important to be aware of others’ interpretation of your point.
Try this: This is a great opportunity for us to get out there without expending the normal amount of resources because [X].
“Throw under a bus.” – No one’s trying to commit first-degree murder here. Let’s put aside the melodrama and get to the point.
Try this: This puts me in a disadvantaged position because [X].
“Bite the bullet.” – Another archaic saying that makes no contextual sense.
Try this: This is time sensitive, so we need to take action despite the complications.
“With all due respect.” – By using this phrase, the person knows that you’re about to disrespect them. Speaking your mind in a direct manner will eliminate and preconceived notions of what you’re about to say.
Try this: Don’t use it.
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As part of our #BeTheChange series, we sit down and discuss how work has evolved, with change-makers in our Garage Community.
This week we chat with Zev, an artist and lighting consultant. She uses The 33PRESS moniker for her artistic endeavors, and prefers to remain anonymous!
We chat about finding fulfillment, creating balance, and embracing discomfort in a cut-throat city like Hong Kong.
Author: Ching Lam Ip, Programme & Marketing Lead, Garage Society