3 Words I Love to Hate

I’m busy. This is a problem. We need this now.

Not too long ago, I began wondering why some words made me cringe. And not only when other people use them, but also when I hear these words coming out of my mouth. Yet, I can barely stop myself. Is it the frequency, the ambiguity? Perhaps. Though, I think it’s really the disconnectedness that drives me up the wall.


Try to go a day without using the word busy. Here’s my beef with this word: it has the power to annihilate office culture, families, and relationships. Yet, in some industries and social circles, it’s even cool to be busy.

The ugly truth: busy disconnects us from others and chips at our empathy, ultimately leaving us feeling lonely and craving a sense of meaning.

Let’s go ahead and bust a couple of myths: we are ALL fairly busy. On top of work, family,hobbies, chores and yoga, there’s technology shadowing us literally in every corner of our lives. We just can’t seem to remember the art of doing nothing.

It’s also healthy to remember that you are not busier than everyone else. Assuming otherwise leads you down a tunnel of judgment and misconception.

Now, for those of you overusing the word busy at work, I’ve got a newsflash: being busy does not equal being productive. Yet, most of us run multitasking marathons without actually making much progress on any task — so it’s fully understandable that we’re gassed out. Sidenote: if you’re looking to actually move a couple of those big projects along, then you might want to find your way back to Deep Work. Cal Newport’s got your back here.

You have a lot going on in your life. I get it. Sometimes, though, it seems that we all hide behind the word busy. Don’t forget that YOU are the one who chooses to make time for things. When you take responsibility for your schedule, you show respect for yourself and to others.

So what do you say when you’re busy? Glad you asked. Here’s a list.


I used to see problems everywhere. My friends and family would wait for me to drop a “Yes, but” whenever we talked about unchartered territory (new, unknown things often have a way of tickling our Amygdala).

Nowadays, I try to use the word problem only if accompanied by a solution. Stating a problem — solo — leads nowhere. Yet, I experience this behavior on a ridiculously frequent basis. Entire meetings have been called to discuss a problem, after which people left none the wiser.

Whether you want to address problems at home or in the office, always picture a solution (or at the very least keep an open mind). This healthy exercise not only boosts your creativity, but also keeps you on the positive side of things.

It’s much easier and more comfortable to join the problem-mindset peeps. But don’t give in. The party over there is gloomy. Focus on solutions, and nurture a growth mindset!


Now can be this wonderful, live in the moment kind of word. And that’s pretty much how I use it at home or in my relationships. But it’s a double-edged sword. At work, now rears out its mister Hyde: it conveys a sense of strict urgency, calls for obedience, and smashes respect and trust.

Now can be that timeframe passed onto you from a so-called leader who doesn’t know the amount of work required to do your job properly.

Now can be an absurd deadline dumped on you by someone who has no respect for your time.

Without polite pushback, now ultimately destroys employee motivation and trust, and leads to a high turnover, burn-out, and poor deliverables.

A couple of tried and tested reactions to dealing with now:

  • Engage the now-sayer: try to find out what a realistic timeframe could be for his or her query
  • Always have a clear activity plan lined out(whether for a month or a year) when explaining to the now-sayer where you could fit in this specific item
  • If necessary, educate the now-sayer about bigger priorities on this plan, but make sure to find a slot for his/her-item. This ensures the now-sayer will still feel valued

Your Choice of Words in Conflicts

I’ve had a fair share of conflicts and tense situations recently. When you feel like you’re headed into battle, it’s more important than ever to mentally and physically prepare yourself. There’s no cookie-cutter way to resolve a conflict, but I can tell you this: you’ll feel much more at peace if you can keep your balance. Here’s my secret sauce:

  1. Organize your thoughts: write them down, rationalize them (i.e. cancel out emotional reactions), and create a short bullet list to guide you
  2. Be mindful of your body: go outside, stretch, take a deep breath, medidate a couple of minutes before heading into a conflict
  3. Take your time: never feel pressured to answer right away, take a breath, choose the right words (how about avoiding busy, problem, and now?)

We’re all constantly jumping from one situation to another, mirroring other behaviours, and completely wrapped up in our thoughts and worries. So take a minute to reflect on your choice of words every once in a while. The more we align our communication to who we are, the more authentic we feel.

What words do you pay close attention to?

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