Forget cleaning out your closets or cleaning up your diet.
Make 2018 the year you clean up your communication.
Ditch the clichés and buzzwords. Put meaning and credibility back into what you say – and what you write. You’re sure to get better results if you do.
Here are 11 all-too-popular workplace words and phrases that have seen their day come and go – and why you really do want to make a point of putting them to rest this year.
Technically, it’s the combined power of a group of things that, when working together, are greater than the power of each working separately. In other words, the sum is greater than the parts. In office speak, it’s an overused, empty word for teamwork.
Getting people, products, processes, and plans in alignment are just common sense for the workplace. It’s a fancy way of saying efficiency. But saying it doesn’t make it easier – or fancier.
It means “characterized by constant change, activity or progress.” It’s generically overused to describe teams and projects, instead of describing their specific value and benefits.
It’s used to describe growth, group sessions, idea generation – anything that’s not done under common procedures. Truth is, leaders and employees should always be coming up with new ideas and growth, so there’s no need for the organic moniker other than to try to make it sound holistically avant-garde (which it isn’t in 2018).
5) Dial it up
It’s been used to encourage people or teams to accelerate or get focused. But if you need more done, it’s better to give people specifics.
6) Blue sky thinking
Add its senior-citizen cousin, “Think outside of the box.” It is another way of saying we need to stay ahead of change with new and different ideas. Just encourage different thinking by continually asking, “What if …?”
7) Limited bandwidth
Some people use this phrase, borrowed from the Techies, as a cheap excuse when they’re too busy to help – instead of adjusting or simply saying they are busy at the moment and then suggesting another time that might be more accommodating for them.
8) At the end of the day
Unless you’re truly talking about closing time, “finally,” “when it’s all said and done” or “ultimately” better describes where you are headed and what the outcome might be.
9) Circle back
It’s an overused, almost silly, noncommittal way of saying you’ll call, email, text, etc. to find out what’s going on.
It’s most often used to comfort employees who fear major changes are on the way. It goes like this: “We’re not changing direction, but we are going to have to pivot.” Of course, if you pivot you are changing direction, so just say that. Tell them you are going to change direction, and describe exactly what the new direction will be.
11) Move the needle
Or its second cousin, “Take it to the next level.” If your line of work doesn’t actually measure anything with an odometer, barometer, thermometer, dynamometer or ‘any’mometer, find another phrase. It’s smarter, and you’ll get much better results if you specifically cite the actual quantitative goal that needs to be reached.
Now Build Your Vocabulary, Credibility
Once you eliminate clichés, you’ll have more opportunity, both in your spoken words and in your writing, to use meaningful phrases and words that build credibility.
Try to use these more often.
- I understand. Empathy conveys acceptance, care and compassion – traits that build better relationships and effective communication.
- Like you, I care about this topic. Transparency and camaraderie build trust. It’s a powerful phrase when you must share bad news, respond to a suggestion or hear out employees when they’re struggling.
- We share a common goal (or challenge). When you tell people you’re on the same side, you build bridges and tear down walls.
- What this means to you is … Employees and colleagues want to know that you have their best interests in mind, whether you’re talking about or to them individually or as a group.
- What do you think? Spend more time listening to employees and less time throwing around clichés to build engagement and gain useful insight.
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Need a bigger list of words to avoid? Check out the list in Inc. Magazine.
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