10 Irritating business phrases you need to stop saying

Business phrases have their place; that place is in the archives. Yet, many people speak as if they’ve swallowed the Business Jargon Dictionary. With so many conversations happening on social media, we need to know that not everyone is speaking in their mother-tongue. So, can we use plain English, please?

Irritating business phrases in my Twitter

I received an offensive automated DM (no, there weren’t any swear words, it was worse than that).

Synergy message - Business phrases we need to stop saying

To be clear, I objected to the word “synergy”. Couldn’t he have written, “how we can work together”?

Living in a Spanish speaking country and communicating in English highlights how this can be a problem. When I speak to my clients I cannot say things like:

I can manage the project because social media is in my wheelhouse.

The client would ask me, “What’s a wheelhouse?” And my client meeting would turn into an English class.

What I would say is:

I can manage the project because I’m good at social media.

I implore you to reconsider how you write and speak. Always opt for plain English, so even non-native English speakers understand the point you’re making.

Use plain English so even non-native English speakers understand your point. #businessjargonClick To Tweet

Eric Jackson took a satirical view of the business phrases we should all avoid in his article: 89 Business Cliches That Will Get Any MBA Promoted And Make Them Totally Useless. Your ears will bleed, and you’ll find quite a few you use.

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The following infographic highlights the 10 phrases I never want to hear or be heard saying, and I invite you to publicly shame me if you ever see these words written by me.

Infographic of 10 Business phrases I never want to hear you say

10 Irritating Business Phrases – Pin this infographic

Annoying business jargon in my email

On the same day, I was asked about any “synergy,” I received an email and was told:

“Start drinking the coolade [sic]”

This word was misspelt. The writer meant to say drink the kool-aid. But did he want me to do that?

The writer was explaining how he was using two ways to spend money to get more traffic to his website. I believe his “coolade” reference was to encourage me to do the same. However, here’s what “drinking the kool-aid” means:

“Drinking the Kool-Aid” is an idiom commonly used in the United States that refers to any person or group who knowingly goes along with a doomed or dangerous idea because of peer pressure. The phrase oftentimes carries a negative connotation when applied to an individual or group.

Source: Wikipedia

Perhaps he could have said:

“Try these ways of getting more traffic.”

Do you see how confusing it can be? We all try to get clever with our words but when we get too clever, we end up being unclear, and our message isn’t understood.

You don't sound clever, you sound unclear. #businessjargonClick To Tweet

10 Phrases to say this instead

We think outside the box here – We can come up with fresh ideas.

That’s right in our wheelhouse – We have a lot of experience in this area.

Don’t leave money on the table – Explore all options for making or saving money.

Let’s circle back to that – We can discuss this in more detail later.

I want you to run with this – I want you to manage this task/project.

It’s a paradigm shift – Things have changed.

We need to manage the optics of this – We need to make this look better.

It is what it is – There’s nothing we can do.

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid – Don’t be gullible.

Impactful – Significant or relevant.

I promise to use the word Significant, Relevant or Important instead of the word Impactful.Click To Tweet

Over to you

Do you use any of these phrases or do any of them make you cringe? Let me know in the comments.

About the author

I’m Tara-Tamiko and I help successful small businesses integrate winning digital marketing transformation strategies in 90 days, so they can increase sales and retain customers without tech overwhelm. Find out more, schedule a Deep Dive Strategy Session.

10 Irritating business phrases you need to stop saying

9 thoughts on “10 Irritating business phrases you need to stop saying”

  1. The Kool-Ade, phase is a very interesting test to tell if you are dealing with someone who is I’ll informed, or unaware of certain aspects of popular culture history, and hence might not be trusted with certain sensitive tasks as a result. Since Jim Jones induced his followers to mass suicide with Kool-Ade in the 1970’s this is a well know slang phrase for very specific social phenomenon and the great danger involved in human behavior. It is very helpful that this exists in business and other cultural areas. Morbid as it is it is a very concise shorthand that exposes very particular facts. In particular this article did not illustrate effectively the origin of the phrase, therefore one could deduce a number of facts for each of the commentators in tis thread as to their response. Such information becomes a valuable tool to leverage. All the other terms are silly in comparison.

    • I don’t think knowledge of Jonestown works as a test of whether people can be trusted with sensitive tasks. Jonestown isn’t common knowledge in the way that the Holocaust or JFK’s assassination is. I wouldn’t necessarily expect anybody born in the 1980s or later to know about it.

  2. I’m afraid I’m guilty of saying “Don’t leave money on the table.” Oh dear. I absolutely detest “impactful,” and I’m growing to hate “thought leader,” mostly because nobody seems to know what it means. It’s one of those “Emperor’s New Clothes” phrases.

    • I’ll be honest; I am also guilty of using some of these. Normally when I’m mirroring someone else’s language to make a connection. Love your reference to the Emperor’s New Clothing because it’s spot on!!


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