Every year as I gear up for the Holidays, I like to compile a list of my top verbal pet peeves - expressions that are overused and should be retired for the coming year. This year I'm adding a new twist. Instead of just bashing everyone's favorite lingo, I'm offering up some replacements, in case you're at a loss for words. So without further ado, here we go.
Using the word "like" in every sentence on a 24/7 basis (another overused expression) is bad enough. Punctuating the beginning of every sentence with "I'm like... so happy to see you," now that's down-right ugly. My first impression? You're a robot that's been programmed with Valley Speak from the '80s. Replacement? Lose the like. "I'm so happy to see you" works just fine.
Anything with "ize" in it. Conceptualize, productize, legitimize, incentivize, virtualize, etc. "Leverage" needs to go. "Disruptive" is overused and usually not deserved. "Impactful," "robust," and "moving forward" come to mind. What about "ideation"? Love that. No idea what it means. I'm also really tired of hearing about business "drivers" and "spaces." Stop "reaching out" to me. Just call or email. Replacements? Just say what it is in plain English. The simpler the better, but don't say "it is what it is."
Here's a great line from the General Services Administration that says it all:
"Strategic sourcing is the structured and collaborative process of critically analyzing an organization’s spending patterns to better leverage its purchasing power, reduce cost and improve overall performance."
OMG, now that's classic. If I see that on your website, I'm calling in the SWAT team.
Stop saying: "aligned" or "best-in-class" or "next generation" or "queued up" or "ramped up" or "low-hanging fruit" or "game changing." Do you have "end-to-end" solutions? So, where does the solution start anyway? Are you a content "curator"? What the heck does that mean? Are you a "thought leader" or an "influencer"? No, I'm a thought follower and I have no influence on anyone. Does your "messaging" "resonate" with anyone? Yikes. Replacements? Describe exactly what your products and services do and how they benefit consumers. Leave out all of the adjectives. Let your customers do the testimonials.
We are evolving into our smartphones. We all talk like Silicon Valley hackers now. I don't have enough "bandwidth" for that. Let's take that "offline." Do we have "benchmarks" in place for that project? Are we "gamifying" that idea? Ouch. "Ping me" when you figure it out. Are we all "synced up" yet? Haven't we built a "firewall" for that? And what would we do without acronyms like "URL" and "WIFI." The Geek-Speak lexicon is too huge to list here, but here's a good glossary. Replacements? Read some books that were written prior to the year 1995. You won't find any of this stuff there, and it still makes sense.
Here are a few that have been rearing their ugly heads lately. We don't have "visibility on that" yet. Huh? You mean you can't see it? Replacements: see, understand. Oh wait, you mean it's too "granular" for you or it has high "granularity." Replacements: detailed, precise, complex or refined. Oops, I used "emerging" in my section heading. Replacement: new. Then there are all the cool terms for business honchos like "pivot." Replacement: change. How about "crowd-funding" for startups? Replacement: how about "begging"?
Say what you mean, dude! Happy Thanksgiving.
What are your "fave" expressions that should be banned by popular decree?
Photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar