These 32 Business Clichés Need to Die

When you hear a business contact using yet another cliché, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. Sure, there are times when using a cliché makes sense. When a person uses one after another, or the context is clearly not right, it’s super annoying. If you’re the one doing it, know that abusing clichés can seriously undermine your credibility. Here is a list of overused business expressions and the reasons they should be put to rest once and for all.

1. To be honest

Wait, you weren’t being honest until now?

2. It is what it is

Yes, that’s true. It definitely “is what it is.” But the question is, what is it?

3. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid

Why not? It’s been one of my favorite beverages for years.

4. With all due respect

Anytime a person starts a sentence with this, the person is about to disrespect you.

5. Let’s see if we have the bandwidth

This typically means the person doesn’t have the bandwidth. It’s a stall tactic.

6. The fact of the matter is

This basically says, “What you’ve presented until now was not fact and I’m about to correct you.”

7. Break down silos

Are we talking about business or farming?

8. Paradigm shift

Big words don’t impress me. Just say “change.”

9. To be fair

I hope you are being fair. It’s only fair.

10. Let’s get disruptive

You’re edgy and trendy; we get it.

11. Going forward

Do you ever go backward in business? I sure hope not.

12. Touch base

Touch base, reach out, get in touch. The list goes on and on. Just use the word contact.

13. Push the envelope

The last time I pushed the envelope, it ended up in the mailbox.

14. In the pipeline

I can’t put it in the pipeline, because I don’t even know what the pipeline is.

15. Leverage our assets

Do you mean “our” assets or “my” assets?

16. Let’s take this offline

We can take it offline, but the conversation is going to be pretty much the same.

17. Low-hanging fruit

Someone who is talking about low-hanging fruit may not have much experience “reaching for the stars” (pun intended).

18. Move the needle

Everybody wants to “move the needle,” but without actionable advice this is a waste.

19. Think outside the box

If someone tells you to think outside the box, chances are that person has never done it.

20. Get granular

You mean specific? Why don’t you just say “specific”?

21. This really has legs

It may have legs, but who knows how fast those legs can run?

22. Raise the bar

Raise the bar, reach for the top, eye on the prize. They are all the same, and none of them mean much.

23. Run it up the flagpole

What are you going to do once it gets to the top?

24. Ducks in a row

Do we really need to bring these cute animals into our business conversation?

25. Synergize

A Stephen Covey term that has been abused, time and time again.

26. Loop back/circle back

So, we’re going to talk about this later, then…

27. 360-degree thinking

This one has never really made sense to me.

28. My door is open

Your door is open, except when it’s actually closed.

29. Eat your own dog food

I don’t want to eat anybody’s dog food. Period.

30. Best of breed

Are you meeting with the Westminster Kennel Club? No? Didn’t think so.

31. Let’s take a deep dive

This was the “cool” thing to say five years ago. Now it’s played out to the max.

32. Pick your brain

Translation: I want to know what you know and am too lazy to look it up myself.

Which clichés really make you grind your teeth? Sound off in the comments!

About The Author

Larry Kim is the CEO of Mobile Monkey and founder of WordStream. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.


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