Sure, not everyone at work is going to love you. There’s that accounting specialist whose coffee mug says, “I hate Mondays.” She doesn’t like you, or anyone, or anything else, for that matter. But, you don’t want the majority of the people you work with to cringe every time you speak, or whenever they see an email in their inbox with your name on it. You can avoid being that coworker if you make sure that these cringeworthy expressions are not in your lexicon.
A survey of 2,000 American workers conducted by OnePoll and Jive Communications found that the expressions people hate hearing the most are, “give it 110 percent,” “think outside the box,” and the term “hammer it out,” a phrase usually used to refer to problem-solving (per MarketWatch). About one in four of your colleagues will tune you out as soon as you use one of these expressions — yet, interestingly, 72 percent of those surveyed admitted they use these expressions themselves. Other clichés that make your coworkers cringe include, “throw them under the bus,” “pushing the envelope,” and “let’s circle back.” And referring to a “win-win situation” is a lose-lose for the person who speaks this term and the person who hears it.
What to say instead of using work clichés
“Modern office manners include knowing when colleagues are uncomfortable in your presence due to your words or actions,” corporate trainer Sharon Schweitzer told The Pueblo Chieftain. “If you use irritating phrases, it displays a lack of consideration that may impact promotion, pay raises and leadership opportunities.”
If you want to banish annoying work clichés from your vocabulary, use clear and concise language instead of commonly-used expressions, Schweitzer explained. Every corporate catchphrase can be translated into basic English. Tempted to say, “let’s think outside the box?” Instead, say, “Let’s be creative.” Instead of “circling back,” how about suggesting colleagues “meet again to discuss?” If it’s a struggle to speak or write without these expressions, give it time, think before you speak, and proofread your emails.
Some people may use clichés because they think it makes them sound more professional or educated (or out of laziness). But consider that famed investor Warren Buffet is known for his brilliantly-written and jargon-free language, as observed by University of Maryland English professor and communications consultant Jonathan Rick. “Second to his investing brilliance, the Oracle of Omaha is known for his deep respect for clear communication,” Rick told PR News. “His shareholder letters are so well-written that they’re considered the gold standard.”
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