For words 1-30, see thirty words and phrases you need to stop using today
Admit it, most of the time, when you use “anticipate” you do so simply because it’s got more syllables than “expect”, don’t you? Look them both up now. See, they mean different things, don’t they?
32. Value proposition
Any copywriter who tells you they can help you communicate your value proposition is like a priest who tells you they can recommend a good strip club: they’re either a charlatan or they’re slightly unhinged. The next person to draw on this nasty bit of marketing jargon when talking to me will be met with a quizzical stare and the question: “Value proposition? Value proposition? Why are you banging on at me about a cut-price offer in a brothel?”
Use not utilise. Use use. Please.
Hang on, I’m only talking to you because I thought you were going to tell me a story so inspiring that people will still be relating it two millennia hence. Now you go and hit me with some drivel about a new platform for delivering integrated business intelligence solutions? Sorry, but that ain’t gonna get me up and dressed before noon every Sunday.
Does anyone actually buy this nonsense about corporate campfires and storied products? Other than the marketing consultants who are making a lot of money narrating stories about narration?
36. Thought leader
If you claim to be a thought leader, then I’m sorry, but you aren’t a thought leader.
Using the term “value-add” doesn’t make you sound impressively clued up and in charge. It makes you sound like Martin Lukes. If you don’t know who Martin Lukes is, order a book called Who Moved My Blackberry now. (It’s satire, by the way, not a manifesto for how you should conduct your life).
38. Reaching out
It made my skin crawl when this one started doing the rounds at my last firm as a substitution for “getting in touch with”. I thought it was cringey because it sounded so touchy-feely – until I heard Tony Soprano use it, at which point I realised it was actually completely sinister.
I feel a pang of sadness whenever I see tourists sitting in a café outside the Trevi Fountain with their nose stuck in a map. The corporate equivalent is the executive who’s so busy “building a roadmap for change” that they never get round to actually changing anything.
I hear the word facilitate and I smell the distinct whiff of the bureaucrat at work. A bureaucrat who facilitates his day such that everyone else does all the actual getting of stuff done.
Shareholders = the people we really care about. Stakeholders = the people we have to pretend to care about. I tell you what, see this stake I’m holding in my hand? I plan to drive it slowly into your shinbone if you use that patronising descriptor of me one more time, OK?
Every single employee in your firm is talented, are they? Are you sure?
Business people, if there’s one thing you can do to instantly sound more articulate, it’s to ditch this stupid word that you’d never contemplate using outside of the office. Do you “deliver love” to your kids? Or do you simply “love” them? Do you relax by “delivering cooking”? Or do you simply “cook”? Then why are you still delivering change/success/innovation and a whole host of other abstract nouns? And by the way, the addition of the word “on” or “against” after “deliver” doesn’t make you sound more impressive either.
And no, you can’t use “drive” instead of “deliver”. Unless you can articulate right now the difference between “driving change” and “delivering change”? Thought not.
Business models, strategies, solutions – all the best ones are integrated apparently. I just wish I knew what it meant.
Do you keep referring to our corporate DNA because you’re planning to splice half our workforce with half the workforce of our main competitor, thus creating a genetically superior super-company from which all the defective DNA has been eliminated?
A vile, anaemic little word used instead of the word “education” by people who regard thinking as an elitist activity. Those same people often talk about their “key learnings”, suggesting that they are under the mistaken impression that pluralising a noun that can’t be pluralised and preceding it with the word “key” doesn’t make you sound illiterate at all.
Another one of those nouns that normal people never pluralise, but corporate types do. I guess it makes managers feel busier and more important if they’re striving after several “key outcomes” rather than just one.
Everyone knows that synergies (especially leveraged ones) are a good thing. It’s just a shame that no one quite knows what they are. Except perhaps those terribly clever people who are now talking about the antonym of synergies, “disynergies”.
In the words of my hero Harry Blamires, author of The Penguin Guide to Plain English: “It would be good advice to any writer to say, “If you are thinking of using the word ‘regarding’, don’t”.
And no, you can’t use “concerning” instead of regarding, either. Trust me, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the word “about”.
UK readers might recall the famous ’80s TV advert in which Maureen Lipman gets a call from her grandson telling her that he’s failed all his exams apart from pottery and sociology. Her response? “He gets an ology and he says he’s failed. You get an ology, you’re a scientist!” Use the word “methodology” (unless you really do mean “the study of methods”) and you’re that grandson.
53. Best practice
Otherwise known as “doing things properly”, “best practice” tends to be used by the sort of person who uses the word “methodology”. A best practice methodology for writers would be not to use the words “best” and “practice” next to each other, except in the sentence: “I mastered F Minor today – that was the best practice!”
Scope creep? Mission creep? Ugh, I’m starting to get irritation creep.
What do films, architecture, Christianity, the War on Terror, Yugoslavia and prosthetic arms all have in common? Well, they’re among the many things that have been “reimagined” in recent years. I just wish that this pompous, inflated word were in the dictionary so I could find out what it actually means.
Advertising concept. Concept album. Concept shop. Yep, “concept” is a word used by not very bright arty types to describe something that contains no concepts.
You could say you were looking at all the details, getting down to the nitty gritty as it were. But it sounds so much more impressively science-y to talk about adopting a granular analysis approach. So go on, say it that way. And dare me not to laugh.
Note to anyone considering posting an officious-sounding sign such as “Persons requiring service should request a ticket at the counter”: the plural of “person” is “people”, unless you really do want to sound like you’re arresting someone. Note to all those organisations whose remit is to help “older persons”, “persons with disabilities”, “displaced persons” or “trafficked persons”: calling them “persons” doesn’t make them sound individual and humanised; it sounds as if you’re a bit scared of them acting as a collective, as a group of “people”. Possibly with good reason.
Doesn’t anyone else find it odd that there are so many books out there on “How to be an authentic leader”? I’m sorry, but can’t help thinking that it’s like jazz: if you have to ask . . . That said, I’m looking forward to reading the next publications in the series, namely: “How not to appear shallow”, “How to make like you care” and “How to fake not being the office sociopath”.
60. Pursuing new challenges
This phrase has the dubious distinction of being quite possibly the the most offensive euphemism for sacking someone ever invented. And in a world where downsizing has become rightsizing, that’s really saying something.
For words 1-30, see thirty words and phrases you need to stop using today