Tweak Your Biz » Marketing » 10 Business Cliches to Avoid

10 Business Cliches to Avoid



Cliches abound in the business world. The Business on RTE pokes fun at business people’s reliance on jargon to get their message across. The linguistic laziness of business and public figures is also examined in Jeremy Butterfield’s book, Damp Squid, The English Language Laid Bare.

Why are business people so reliant on clichés? After all, they’re smart, they know their business and they develop brilliant concepts on a regular basis. The trouble is, clichés have a habit of being true. They’re also a handy crutch when you’re groping for a word in a pressurised situation.

It’s time to throw your crutches away. Here’s a list of the 10 most common cliches, along with some alternatives you can use to communicate your message in a fresh way.

1. Going forward – Going forward where, I always wonder. Alternative: in the future, in the coming months,

2. Blue sky thinking. Alternative: Why not just say innovative or creative thinking.

3. Synergy A plastic substitute for real connection between businesses.  Alternatives: connection, link, chemistry

4. 24/7 Alternative: all the hours God sends. May be more unwieldy, but implies dedication. Also more accurate. No one actually works 24 hours a day.

5. At the end of the day.  Alternative: Ultimately, in the end

6. Park the Issue.  Alternative: Make this a more positive statement by saying, ‘Let’s return to this at a later date.’

7. On the Same Page.  Alternative: on the same wavelength, in agreement

8. Get all our ducks in a row. Alternative: line up our options.

9. With all due respect.  Alternative: None. This is a sneaky phrase, a false attempt to soften the blow. If you feel a need to make your point, go straight for the jugular.

10. Levels the playing field. Alternative: creates balance, evens things out

Feel free to add your own clichés and alternatives. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.



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Add Your Comment

  • http://www.channelship.ie/blog/ fred

    Great advice Greg. I believe “The 3 minute you” is extremely important. Knowing exactly what’re your strengths (and weaknesses) might make the entire difference. This is the same thing as asking someone in business “what’s your USP? or what’s makes you different than the rest”? If you don’t know that, you’re in the same sack as everybody else.
    Also, knowing what are your exact strengths goes beyond simply being ready for the question… it means feeling very confident too! For those employers that can’t appreciate what you have, you know there’s someone out there that will :)

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    Good post Greg and some worthy advice for candidates. An addition to the piece on competency based interview – essentially interviewers are looking for the “situation, task, action and result” i.e. what was going on, what did you do and what was the out-come. It should be noted that a negative outcome is fine in an example providing you can demonstrate what you learnt :). Just don’t make them all negative!

  • http://www.bizmatters.ie/ Niamh O’Leary

    Hello Greg,

    I think you have portrayed some very valuable points that are evident but some people just don’t get it. Doing your homework is vital to make a good impression, from submitting your Résumé to the interview, to dressing the part, arriving early, making a lasting first impression on the interviewer, keeping it simple and staying focused. End the interview on a high note and lastly send a hand written thank you note.
    This could mean you getting the job over somebody else. Technical skills and knowledge account for 15% of the reason you get a job, keep a job and advance in a job. 85% of your job success is connected to your people skills.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Greg, great post! I have interviewed many people over the years and here’s something that I noticed. Why someone wants to leave their current role and what attracts them to this new opportunity should have a synergy in my opinion but often the candidate let’s themselves down when answering questions about this. An example: the person says that they want to leave their current role because there are no opportunities for progression. Later you ask them, what attracts them to this role and they say the security of working for a big company. Immediately an alarm bell goes in my head as I’m thinking they are giving me the answers that they think I want to hear rather than the reality of their situation. It’s just a thought, but as I say it something that I have noticed time and again.

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Ah Greg, the good old classics!!! Arriving late because of “traffic” but actually, the person never found out directions beforehand. Not knowing the name of the person you are meeting, etc etc. It’s hard to imagine this is still happening today, especially as people have fewer opportunities for interviews etc. Job seekers have more time on their hands, the perfect opportunity to gather more information beforehand.

    My tip? Just when you think you have done enough research – DO MORE, never less than you think.
    Utilise the Internet, social networking, social media, and NEVER be afraid to ask for a name or referral, even if it’s down the local pub on a Friday night

  • Anonymous

    Great tip Elaine – “when you think you have done enough research and preparation- DO MORE”
    Spot on.

    PS. I’d say the “Mock interviews” down the local on a Friday night would be a great laugh. Particularly late in the evening…LOL.

  • Anonymous

    Niamh,

    Thanks so much for your comments. The hand written thank you letter is a super way to cement that good impression you made at interview stage and to remain at the forefront of the interviewer’s mind. Great point.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comments Niall. You raise an interesting point, that it is important that our answers are sincere and demonstrate our interest in the specific role, rather than over the top scripted nonsense. Very often candidates give an answer without explaining the reason behind the answer.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comments Fred. By demonstrating your USPs, Your strengths and your achievements you will shine above your competition.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment Barney. Thanks for mentioning the STAR Approach.

    • Situation
    • Task
    • Action
    • Result.

    It is really helpful for the candidate to be aware of it when answering questions at interview.

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Barney, Greg,
    Also a great system to build into a CV, simplified as TAR – instead of listing bullets of responsibilities for each role, pick a task that they accomplished well, and do a TAR analysis : Task, Action, Result.

    The key aspect of using this system is it is measureability – one can demonstrate how they tackled a difficult challenge, the approach to solve the problem, and the quantifiable result they obtained (€ savings, percentage increases or decreases, time saved, clients saved etc)
    I can now add the S to my TAR – suddenly becomes a much brighter acronym :)

  • Anonymous

    You are a STAR for sharing the TAR with us! Great advice.

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    A great list. Here’s another one

    win-win situation = why not just say “We both have to concede something so that this can progress”. It’s impossible for two conflicting sides to both win and not concede!

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    I have found some interview questions quite funny.”Where do you see yourself in five years?” etc

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Hi Derbhile,

    Great to hear from a fellow writer! (I’m studying a creative writing and Lit diploma and writing a book).

    It’s like a secret society language for Biz. More powerful and expresses creativity. Plus its a business norm – we repete phases to fit in.

    Here’s a few more for the list :
    When all is said and done (same as ‘at the end of the day’)
    Think outside the box (Innovative – same as ‘blue sky thinking’)
    Our only saving grace (Only positive thing about this)
    Hit the ground running (Get stuck in / energetic)
    Raising the bar (New level)
    Tight-knit on this (Work closely in a group)
    Lay our cards on the table (Be upfront / honest)
    Run with (Carry on with)
    Wrap up (Complete/finish)
    Double-edged sword (Could go either way)
    Caught between a rock and a hard place (Not sure which way to turn as both are as bad as each other)
    Back against the wall (No choice)

    Could go on forever!

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Best answer – Doing your job! ;0 )

  • Anonymous

    thanks for the post Derbhile, made me laugh. Check out Bulls**t Bingo at http://www.companyculture.com/topics/BullshitBingo.htm.

  • Gerard Sugrue

    You’re missing:
    - singing from the same hymn sheet = in agreement
    - leverage = take advantage of
    - ramp up = prepare for
    - steep leaning curve = lot of preparation and research needed

    I think there is potential for an update of Myles na gCopaleen’s “catechism of cliche”

    Q: What colour of ‘atmospheric thought’ is needed?
    A: ‘Blue Sky Thinking’

    Q: How do we arrange our farmyard poultry?
    A: We get all our ducks in a row

    See….

    Gerard

  • Gerard Sugrue

    You’re missing:
    - singing from the same hymn sheet = in agreement
    - leverage = take advantage of
    - ramp up = prepare for
    - steep leaning curve = lot of preparation and research needed

    I think there is potential for an update of Myles na gCopaleen’s “catechism of cliche”

    Q: What colour of ‘atmospheric thought’ is needed?
    A: ‘Blue Sky Thinking’

    Q: How do we arrange our farmyard poultry?
    A: We get all our ducks in a row

    See….

    Gerard

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    My favorite that was doing the rounds 7 years ago when all my friends were dappling in shares, who inevitably had their fingers well burnt:
    “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” with it’s opposite “fingers in too many pies”

    I didn’t dapple, but admire them for their enthusiasm
    I’m sure there are plenty more…

  • Anonymous

    Hi Derbhile
    we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet and need to be pro-active when thinking outside the box. With joined up thinking and some leverage we could take ownership and stick it inside the outside of the box.
    If you get my meaning
    Loved your post, all this nonsense is priceless and they’re out there