We’re all guilty of it. We roll our eyes when we hear someone else utter a cliché or over-used business phrase, but then suddenly, we realize that the very same phrase that made us roll our eyes is actually coming out of our own mouth! So, I have decided to ask the wonderful CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to tell us what they think is the one phrase that should be permanently retired from our business vocabulary. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
1. It's NOT Always Possible!
"Do more with less" needs to just go away! Businesses have been asking employees to do this for over a decade. At some point, you can NOT do any more without more resources - people, budget, technology. Folks are being set up for failure, which is demotivating at best and causes presenteeism at worst. The reality is that we need to get honest about what will NOT be getting done and plan from there.
2. We are Not Santa Claus
"Let's wrap it up." or "That's a wrap." reminds me of Santa Claus and his workshop filled with little elves busily wrapping presents. People hear words and think in pictures.
Make sure your words match the picture that most people will have in their mind's eye. If your words do not match the behaviors you are seeking, you are wasting your time and are diluting your desired results.
3. Drinking the Kool-Aid
This phrase has been overused and just needs to go away. In the workplace, critical thought and consideration must be made. Management should be open to options that are offered by those that work for them. The idea of "going along to get along" has caused issues and problems that have had short and long term effects. So, no more "Kool-Aid drinking", try a conversation over a cup of coffee or bottle of water, discuss decisions and ideas thoroughly and choose a good course of action together.
4. Stop the Cliché
"We need to dialog about this".
It's a noun, not a verb!
5. Value Subtract?
Why would you add something that doesn't have value?
6. The Money is in the List
If I had a penny for every time someone said, 'the money's in the list' I'd be a millionaire. I get it, your list is important, but the problem with the mindset that it's the equivalent to an ATM machine is that it encourages business owners to use and abuse their list! Yes, your list is valuable, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be respected. Treat your subscribers and customers with love and respect- value the time that they take to open your emails and don't treat them like they're a walking dollar.
7. Think Out-of-the-Box
When distinctively different competitive ideas are needed, we often hear the term "think out-of-the-box." This term is so overused and actually incorrect. Out-of-the-box thinking typically leads to unproductive ideas that are strategically off-base. Instead, we need to maximize our efforts by focusing our brainstorming time on generating ideas that capitalize on manufacturing capabilities, brand equities, market trends, and customer needs, wants, and desires to make a profitable business impact.
8. Overused Phrase
In the moment! This phrase is utilized when people make decisions on the fly and rationalizes not including all key stakeholders- "We were in the moment and decided..."
9. It is What it is!
It is what it is!... everything is always what it is; so there's no reason to point it out.
10. This Post is Innovative
Personally, I am tired of hearing how every new product/service is "innovative". Yes, I am horribly guilty of using the word "innovative" far too often myself. But this is not about me, it's about other people. And doggone-it, people like me.
11. The Centered Leader
"What keeps leaders awake at night" has become a much overused expression in the past few years. Rather than sending the message that you, as a leader, have so much important stuff to worry about, it actually reflects a certain sense of personal disempowerment. Effective leaders sleep well at night because they've found their center, knowing how to delegate, enable their followers to achieve their best, and have fun along the way.
12. Kenneth, Wrong Frequency!
I'm sick of business types using the term "bandwidth" to describe his or her availability for a call or meeting, as in "I wish I could, but I don't have enough bandwidth right now."
YOU are a person, NOT a part of the wireless spectrum!
13. Take it Where??
I would like to have the phrase "Take your business to the next level" erased from the lexicon of business jargon. What does that even mean? It's so over used that I don't think businesses even know anymore! Please encourage your marketing and communication teams to pick up a thesaurus and find some other way to describe what you do!
14. That's a Verb Now?
Way too many business writers are transforming nouns into verbs (one suspects because they're too lazy to find the correct copy); my least favorite at the moment is "gift." ("I'm gifting the president a copy of the book.")
15. Let's Retire "Rebranding"!
I suggest that we retire the word "rebranding." I fear that for many organizations, it means simply redesigning the logo and all collateral materials, and perhaps creating a new tagline. Before doing that, the organization must first go through an extensive process of reviewing or redefining its mission, vision, core values, and its products and/or services. If it hasn't taken this important first step, then a change in the look of its corporate identity won't mean very much in the long run.
16. You Want Me to Open WHAT?
"Open the kimono" has to be the worst business phrase ever. The analogy is totally inappropriate and I'm not being a prude - the comparison simply doesn't make sense. Our relationships with our customers are not the same as the relationship that a married couple would have. Not even close. The idea that we should share our knowledge for mutual benefit is important, though - I call that "authenticity". No jargon required.
There is no such thing as a solution. There is such a thing as a solution to a problem. Until a problem has been specified, there can be no solution to it. You might offer a program, a service, assistance or software. But until you enunciate a problem, you are not offering a solution.
David Leonhardt of THGM
18. Speak Not of Crowd Sourcing
The first time that I heard the phrase “crowd sourcing”, it came across as brilliant in that the definition was immediately apparent. Startups seeking funding or those desiring help to pay off debt jumped onto the term. Unfortunately, now that the masses are using the phrase crowd sourcing, it no longer seems brilliant. Instead, those who speak it show no creative ability of their own. For me, the phrase is tired and should be retired.
19. Why "Core Values" is Goofy
Every time that I hear Core Values, I shudder. Who is set on creating a product that is a failure? What group announces their intent to lose money or collapse?
So, when the idea of "creating core values" gets verbalized, I sigh. I propose the objective of ANY organization is a game plan that is reasonable, workable, and realistic in scope. The following year, go a step further. As long as progression is in the making--it is good to go.
20. New and Improved
Okay, what was wrong with the old one? Why did it need to be "new and improved" and what did you do to it to make it so?
These are the thoughts running through my mind every time that I hear that phrase. If it is truly THAT NEW or THAT IMPROVED, it better be disruptive in the marketplace and not just a new color or size of packaging.
21. Please Don't "Reach Out" to Me
A very young woman at a large company “reached out” to me a while back. The phrase sounded pretentious, especially when she used it twice more during our brief phone conversation. I realized that it was a new buzzword which I’d be hearing and reading a lot more. You may love it, but I cringe every time. English is a wonderful language with infinite possibilities. So please, contact me. Send me a note. Pick up the phone and call me. Get in touch. But please. Don’t “reach out” to me.
22. Bells and Whistles!
I heard it so many times during sales trainings that I still catch myself saying it years later (luckily not very often)... Bells and Whistles. I never could stand the phrase; this is a good one to retire!
23. Shut Up Mother...
I'm sick of hearing the phrase that I first heard from my mother. "You can't do that." Then, I was two, eight, twelve, and sixteen. Now, you hear it from bureaucrats and public service leaders intent on stifling growth.
In the UK, you will hear all of the reasons that you can't do something before the first one that you can.
The winners in this game are the business leaders who wade through the stagnation and emerge on the other bank with their idea intact.
24. Not to Worry? Worry!
"Not to Worry!"
You'll hear it mostly from prospective suppliers who already aren't listening to the problem. Someone who cares about your views will listen to details in hopes of ending your worries.
Would you rather buy easy assurances or real solutions?
25. In Speech: Concise Beats Cute
"In your wheelhouse"
26. I Want to Say NO!
It is rampant in retail stores right now. When you are standing in front of a cashier and he/she says, "Did you find what you are looking for?" Of course not; that is why I am standing in line. This is one of the most useless greetings one could teach people to use for customer service- useless and irritating. Now, ask me how I really feel about it.
27. I'll Just Monetize That
People should not be allowed to use the word “monetize” in place of an actual business plan as in the following example:
Me: How will you generate income?
Client: We’ll monetize the website.
Client: That’s why we hired you.
Me: How will you pay me?
Client: You’ll get 10% of the income.
Me: Of what?
Client: The monetized website.
Me: Do you have a business plan?
Client: Yes, we’ll monetize the website.
28. PowerPoint ≠ Presentation
Can we please stop misusing the name PowerPoint to mean presentation? MS PowerPoint is a tool. It is not the speech. It is not the supporting visuals.
Using PowerPoint as a crutch for a presentation is an indication that the speaker could a) use more practice, b) consult designer, c) consult a writer, or d) join a Toastmasters club.
The slidedeck for a presentation is background support, adding visual interest to your speech. You should be able to give the speech without PowerPoint.
29. Trending is Trending Now!
Please. "Trends" have a hard enough time on the credibility front, let alone having the word become a verb. People using the term "trending" want us to believe that they are at the crest of a wave and will ride it to the beach. It is extremely temporary and couldn't possibly have been researched for more than a nanosecond. This is the type of term you would find when describing hemlines in Los Angeles.
Thanks to: Lorraine Justice.
30. Down with Up!
The term "up" has been used for countless misapplications. For example, "They upped the bid" for an M&A deal. It started with "Up the ante" which is a Poker phrase and is now being used to describe almost anything that should actually be called an increase. This kind of misuse erodes the value and the precision of descriptions within our language. It makes me cringe when I hear it.
31. "Are We on the Same Page?"
"Are We on the Same Page?" is three questions in one. They are:
1. "Do we share a similar philosophy and/or vision?"
2. If we are working together, it also means; "Do we have a way to check-in and make sure that our thinking is still in alignment with one another?"
3. The third is: "Do we have a way to solve differences in a constructive way?"
It is better if we are asking one of these three questions, as the outcomes will be more beneficial to all groups.
32. Avoiding the "Net-Net"
What's the "net-net" or the bottom line? There are just too many clichés making their way around the board room. Be creative and use your own words.
33. Just Say It! - No Analogies
"We need to get all our ducks in a row."
You're talking to an adult...just say "organize".
"My door is always opened."
Just say "Feel free to talk to me. I'm here to help."
It's a warmer feeling you put out.
"We need to pre-plan."
"Pre-plan"? NO!...You just sit down and PLAN!
34. Enough Already!
It's difficult to listen to people use the phrase "state of the art" when today's technology is already old tomorrow. Henry Harrison Suplee didn't realize in 1910 when he wrote "In the present state of the art, this is all that can be done." in an engineering manual on gas turbines that his words would somersault & catapult into the vocabulary of marketing Ad Men to sell everything from B&W TVs to an iMac 27.
35. Never Again!
How many times must we hear "at the end of day"?
At the end of a challenging day, I want to regroup, reflect and recharge for tomorrow. It used to be "when it's all said and done". This has a "we're finished" meaning, when we all understand that we're never finished!
Do you know another over-used business phrase that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!