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Business Words and Phrases That Annoy Me

Looking at some of my biggest language pet peeves.
Jun | 30 | 2014


Jun | 30 | 2014

I can be a bit of a prickly pear when it comes to language, especially among business folks. Jargon has always made me bristle, and I avoid it like the plague in my talks, posts, books, and everyday conversation. It didn’t take me too long to bang out that section of Message Not Received.

In no particular order, here are some absolute verbal atrocities that I hear far too often:

  • Net-net. I shudder every time that I hear this one. Completely meaningless.
  • Very unique and really unique. Unique is a superlative and a binary. Either something is unique or it isn’t. Period. There are no degrees.
  • Price point. Price is just fine by me. I’ve never heard a decent explanation of why “point” is needed here.
  • Also too. John Clayton of ESPN makes me cringe with this one pretty frequently, but I’ve heard it in business contexts as well. Just awful.
  • Transition (verb). What’s wrong with moving into a new role? Transition is just another example of nouns turned into verbs.
  • At the end of the day. One of my bosses at CapitalOne a zillion years ago routinely incorporated this one into his lexicon. Every time he said it, I used to think to myself “we go home, eat dinner, and go to sleep.”
  • It’s all about execution. This one is the epitome of facile. A consultant I knew used to drop this one like it was some type of grand revelation. It goes without saying that execution matters, what if you’re executing on the wrong strategy? Whoops. What’s more, luck, competition, and other factors also play big roles in outcomes. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.
  • It is what it is.  This tautology is nothing short of moronic. When is something what it isn’t?
  • Thinking outside the box. This one is beyond hackneyed. Forget boxes. These days, I try to think inside of a pentagon or, at a minimum, a triangle. Yes, we get it. Creativity matters.

Honorable mention goes to “pivot.”

How about you? What grinds your gears?

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