I never realized how much business clichés bothered me until a co-worker rattled off at least fifteen or twenty of them recently. Soon thereafter, we giggled our way through a meeting where we kept throwing out one bad phrase after another. I decided to give you my personal take on them and take a drastic departure from my normal blogging topics.
Outside of the box: When people suggest we think ‘outside of the box’, I have an image of my children playing with the corrugated good stuff. (see recent photo on left). Call me juvenile, but I just can’t get out of the box.
Dovetail: People should only use ‘dovetail’ to describe drawers on fine furniture or cabinetry. Period.
Cast a wider net: Unless you are in the fishing or butterfly-snatching business, let’s keep the nets out of the meeting room. The image of the Gorton’s Fisherman, complete with a yellow slicker and hat, always comes to mind.
The takeaways: When someone discusses a ‘takeaway’ with me, I’m expecting a party favor. The term ‘takeaway’ conjures up images of the tchotchke given out at parties, showers, and weddings. I have yet to receive a party favor for attending a staff or client meeting.
Circle Back Around: What ever happened to the notion of simply ‘following up’? When did we get so fancy that we must sound like an Air Traffic Controller telling a pilot to ‘circle back around’. This just doesn’t make sense to me.
Level Playing Field: Aside from the pitcher’s mound, aren’t most playing fields level? I have never attended a sporting event (baseball, football, soccer) played on the side of a hill. So, is it safe to assume most playing fields are level?
Robust: As a raving fan of coffee, I think it should be illegal to use the word ‘robust’ for anything other than a nice, strong cup of coffee.
Best of Breed: dogs, horses, and fancy cats can fall in to the ‘best of breed’ category. Please don’t use this term to describe your sales team or your company’s service offerings. The State Fair awards blue ribbons to animals for this — why would you use it to brag about your company or your staff?
I can assure you that I am guilty of using some–if not all– of these phrases, and hope that no one is offended by my rant. But, the more I hear them, the more I realize that we should just stick with basic everyday terms and leave the breeding to breeders, the playing field to the grounds crew, and robust things to coffee makers.
If you have a takeaway you’d like to share, you can circle back with Meg Sherman at firstname.lastname@example.org