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 serious lack of imagination. Nothing here is dangerous; 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. First pursuing whatever he/she advocates; will presumably result in a higher success rate because of fewer barriers. Be wary when you hear it. Often you’re closer to the orchard and your gut may tell you that this fruit hangs high, has already been picked, or already rotted, than the speaker knows. Either way, it's a cliché 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. Unfortunately, use of "it is what it is"....is not confined to business. Even Jerry Seinfeld does a bit to ridicule those 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 been amusing the first five times one hears 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. Why not post examples that actually demonstrate an organization’s commitment to employee well-being, as opposed to spewing a ubiquitous platitude?
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