I recently posted an article devoted entirely to the use of the word “but.” Since that article was published, my colleagues, friends, relatives, and readers have steered me toward an ever-growing list of other words or expressions that cause angst, annoyance, and a lot of emotions in between.
In the spirit of my passion for words, I’m going to share some expressions to avoid in both a business context as well as in personal conversations. And then, because it’s what I do, I’m going to offer you some alternatives.
Five Business Expressions to Avoid
- Hit the Ground Running. What does this really mean? If you are hitting the ground, are you supposed to be running at the same time? That seems challenging. Instead, I’d suggest “let’s get started immediately.” (I know, it’s obvious, right?)
- All Hands on Deck. Unless you’re in the Navy, I’d suggest “we need 100% participation.”
- Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid. When’s the last time anyone has had Kool-Aid? I know it’s likely used as a negative expression for jumping on the bandwagon (and what exactly is a bandwagon?). My replacement is to use a positive expression, such as “think independently.”
- Game Changer. I sometimes change from Candy Crush to Solitaire. I guess that’s probably too literal an interpretation. Try “a new approach” instead. (Now, isn’t that a new approach?)
- Let’s Not Reinvent the Wheel. I understand this to mean not to tamper with success. So, instead say “let’s not tamper with success.”
Five Personal Expressions to Avoid
- To be Honest. Unless you’ve recently had a lobotomy, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’ve been honest in the past and will continue to be honest in the future. I have no suggestion here, other than to pay attention to your words.
- You Guys. I know, I catch myself saying it too. Guys is a masculine noun. Females are not guys. Try simply “you,” or “you all,” or my favorite even though I’m not Southern, “y’all.”
- It is What it is. I’m guilty. And as soon as I utter those five words, I want to hit rewind and try again. I’d like to change it to “for now.”
- So We’re All on the Same Page. What is this? A book club? Instead, try this: “let’s make sure we understand each other.”
- Yes. But. Maybe I should have listed this as number one. If you’re going to say “but,” you’re not agreeing, so the “yes” is actually “no.” Instead, don’t agree, and don’t say “but.” I’d much prefer something along the lines of “I’m looking at it another way. Let me explain.”
What words or expressions cause you to react? Does the word “moist” make you cringe? Are you disgusted when grown-ups talk baby talk even if there’s not a child in sight? How do you feel about euphemisms for body parts?
Please comment and let me know what I should add to this list.
This is a great article with wonderful suggestions to articulate, resulting in better, more intelligent communication.
Great suggestions. Funny too, as a former skydiver hitting the ground running means landing and being ready to go.
I take the one about reinventing the wheel as a suggestion to not waste time creating something that has already been created.
Some expressions give some personality to the conversations or are a way of communicating tone I feel, but it can get a little confusing at times and it’s nice to have alternative ideas. Thank you.