I’m guilty. Whether at the office or via conference calls, I’ve used clichés repeated so many times by so many business people, that the phrases lack impact and often convey unintended impressions, or at least a lack of imagination. Nothing here is too serious; usage is not fatal, but for your consideration, I’ve listed my top five abused business phrases....
1. “Let’s get the low hanging fruit” – This relic is normally meant to convey the speaker’s opinion on prioritization. By first pursuing whatever he/she advocates; one’s actions will presumably result in a high success rate because of fewer barriers. Be wary when you hear it. Often you’re closer to the orchard. Your gut may tell you that more of this fruit hangs high, has already been picked, or already rotted, than the speaker knows. Either way, it's a major cliché and one worth avoiding when making your case.
2. “It is….what it is” – Of course. What else could it be? If you wish to say we must reluctantly accept the current state and move on; just say that. We need to move on. Unfortunately, use of "it is what it is"....is not confined to business. Even Jerry Seinfeld does a bit that ridicules those of us who use this one in every day life.
3. Here's another classic cliché and one typically used to answer a very simple and honest question like, how are you? I'm referring to the standard, cringe-worthy reply, "I'm living the dream". It might've been amusing the first five times one heard it....but after that?
4. “Let’s think outside the box” – This one, without exception, is my most loathed idiom because: a) it’s incredibly old and b) its usage reveals that the speaker trying to catalyze freethinking lacks creativity -- which defeats the purpose of using it to inspire others in the first place.
5. “Our people are our most valuable asset” – PU. How many mission statements, speeches and ads, include this syrupy old slogan? It’s usage automatically invites skepticism. It's more effective to weave in examples that actually demonstrate an organization’s commitment to employee well-being, as opposed to spewing a ubiquitous platitude.
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