Words and phrases to avoid

I did a trawl of the internet recently to collect words and phrases that I would prefer not to see and hear any more. It would be good to think that I could take the moral high ground and say that I had not used any of  them myself. Unfortunately, I realise that many of these have slipped out of my mouth, or into my own writing at some point. So I put them here first as a confession, and cautionary reminder to myself. Reading this list, I am appalled at the laziness and imprecision of thought; the unexamined and suspect values; and, quite often, what they reveal of a casual disrespect towards listeners, readers, or people being spoken about. Readers may well not agree with everything I have put on my list of ‘words and phrases to avoid’, but I hope the list will give cause for reflection.

A – Able to work in teams – Able to work independently, on own initiative – Actionable – Actually; in fact – Agile (versatile) – All things considered – Allow me to – And again – Architect (used as a verb) – As we saw earlier; as I said earlier – At the end of the day; what it boils down to

B – Back of the envelope – Ballpark figure – Be that as it may – Believe in better – Benchmark – Best of breed; world class – Best practices – Better to apologise later than ask for permission first – Between you and I – Blue sky thinking – Boots on the ground – Bottom line – Brings a lot of value to the table – Built from the ground up – Buy-in

C – Carrot and stick – Cast a wider net – Change Agent – Circle back – Client-centred – Core competency – Crescendo (as in, “the noise reached a crescendo”, or a ‘crescendo of emotion” [NB crescendo is not the climax itself, but means ‘growing’ ie growing towards a climax]) – Customer is always right – Cutting edge, innovative, robust solution

D – Decide not to decide – Do more with less – Doing x, one y at a time – Don’t shoot the messenger – Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater – Don’t waste any more fuel on that – Downsizing – Downstream – Draw a line in the sand – Drill down – Driven – Drop the ball

E – Eco-anything – Efficient; effective – Ending declarative statements with a questioning tone of voice – Every little helps – Expect the unexpected

F – Failure isn’t an option – Faster, Cheaper, Better – Flexible solutions – Focused on … (i.e. results) – For what it’s worth – Frankly; to be honest; to be perfectly candid – From a _____ standpoint – From a name you can trust

G – Game changer – Giving 110% – Goal oriented – Going forward – Going from good to great – Gotta raise the bar

H – Has legs and can go really far… – Have a nice day – Here’s the thing – Hit the ground running – Hopefully

I – I don’t mean to contradict you, but … – I don’t have the bandwidth – I’m not throwing him under the bus, but … – Impact (as a verb) – Impactful – Improve ROI – In my (humble) opinion; IMHO – In the final analysis – In the x space – In today’s marketplace / society / culture – Incentivise – Industry Leader – Industry Standard – Integration (in all its forms: vertical integration, horizontal integration, diagonal integration, upside-down integration, inside-out integration, seamless integration, integrated approach) – Irregardless – It is what it is – It just wasn’t meant to be – It’s not rocket science

J – Just my 2 cents

K – Key stakeholders – Kind of; sort of – Know what I mean? – KPIs – Leading provider of…

L – Let’s be proactive here people – Let’s not reinvent the wheel – Let’s take this off-line – Let’s throw this against the wall and see what sticks – Level playing field – Leverage (as a verb, or even as a noun …) – Like (as a noise to fill silences) – Listening organisation – Low-hanging fruit

M – Mainstream (as a verb, or even as a noun …) – Make a difference – Make sure we’re on the same page; singing from the same hymn sheet – Manage expectations – Marketing-driven – Maximize (eg ‘maximise customer satisfaction’) – Meet with (why not ‘meet’?) – Monetize – Moving up the value chain – Multi task

N – Needless to say; it goes without saying – Next Generation – No pain, no gain – No-brainer – Not to change the subject, but … – Now more than ever; today, more than ever…

O – Obviously; it is self-evident that – One-stop shop – Only one thing is clear, and that is that nothing is clear – Only time will tell – Open a dialogue – Operationalise

P – Paradigm shift – Park that for later – Passionate – Peace of mind – Phenomenal – Point of no return – Possibly – Push the envelope – Push-back – Put a stake in the ground

R – Reach out – Really; very – Rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic – Resonate – Responsible (on a CV ‘I am a responsible individual …”, or ‘responsible for …”; or ) – Responsive – Results oriented – Rightsizing – Robust solutions – Run it up the flagpole (and see who salutes) – Run with this

S – Shoot first, ask questions later – Spearhead – Stay on message – Step up to the plate – Strategic… – Streamlined – Synergy

T – Take it to the next level – Team player – Teamwork – The customer is always right – The Elephant in the room (or the corner. or under the table, or by the water cooler …) – There is no ‘I’ in team – Thinking outside the box – This being said – Thought leader – Tighten the belt – Too many chiefs and not enough Indians – Touch base – Transparency – Turnkey solution

U – Uber-[anything] – Under the radar – Uptake – User-experience – User-Focused – USP – Utilise

V – Value-added – Viral

W – We do x, so you don’t have to – We go the extra mile; more bang for your buck – What’s not to like? – What’s the takeaway from this? – When all is said and done – When it comes right down to it – Where the rubber meets the road – Whiteboard an idea – Win-win – With all due respect – Work smarter, not harder

X – X on steroids – X people can’t be wrong

Y – You can see that … – You know – You or They when referring to a group of people who are colleagues or peers; we can include ourselves by saying ‘We’



See also:

Use simple language