101 Things To Never Say Again
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” – Margaret Thatcher
There are some terms that just have to go away – every time I hear them I flinch, and sometimes I have to squelch the compulsion to scream.
You too? Are there things you simply cannot bear to hear one more time? Especially in a business setting?
Language is the currency of human interaction. It matters – a lot, actually. What we say, including the words we choose to say it with, says everything about us. We use language to put our best foot forward at the workplace and in social situations, so… let’s be sure that foot isn’t covered in dung, shall we?
Without further ado, here’s the start of my list of 101 things I truly, honestly could live my whole life without ever hearing again. Down at the bottom are some other terms that are confusing, and those aren’t helpful either. As you’ll quickly see, my own list is well short of 101. I was hoping you could help me build this list out in the comments below. Give me a hand?
Let’s start with things people say in the spirit of Margaret Thatcher’s famous Lady quote at the start of this post:
1. I’m a guru. Or creative. Or smart, famous, attractive, charismatic… You don’t tell people you’re a guru: it doesn’t work that way. They tell each other you are.
You don’t tell people you’re a guru: it doesn’t work that way. They tell each other you are.
2. Nobody calls you a ninja. There’s a reason for that. Don’t call yourself a ninja, either.
4. Think outside the box. Here’s the thing with this one: the only people who say this are people who’ve never even seen the outside of the box they dwell in. True innovators don’t have any idea what a box even is.
5. Trust me. This is the favorite phrase of used car salesmen the world over. Whenever someone says, “Trust me,” check your wallet. Then back out of the room.
6. Metrics. Analytics are one thing – we use them to make sense of Big Data. But “metrics” are used by untrusting bureaucracies to subjugate workers. Metrics have no place in a healthy, dynamic organization. This term has to go.
7. It is what it is. This is filler, kind of like saying “umm,” but in a much more odious way. It means nothing. Stop saying it.
8. Solution. This word also means absolutely nothing: it’s so general as to be completely meaningless, isn’t it? You’re welcome.
9. Work-Life Balance. No such thing. Work is just another part of life. Better enjoy it.
10. Policy. Remember the bureaucrats from item #6? They looooooove to hide behind “policy.” Made by whom? For what reason? They’ll never tell you. Please, throw out all of your organization’s policies today, along with that word. Let’s use “rule of thumb” instead.
11. Best practice. This term drives mediocrity. By the time you hear about someone else’s best practice, they’ve already begun developing its replacement. You can never win by matching yesterday’s best. Invent your own, and let someone else copy it from you.
12. I give up. Winners never give up. Instead, take a page from US Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones, and try this on for size: “I have not yet begun to fight!”
13. Annual Budget. What? It’s 2014. I’d love nothing more than to go up against a company that plans its whole year out 15 months in advance. Good luck, suckers!
By the time you hear about someone else’s best practice, they’ve already begun developing its replacement. You can never win by matching yesterday’s best. Invent your own
14. Associate… Partner… Team Member… All those stupid things companies call their employees these days. Someone either works for you or they don’t. If you have to ask your legal department what you should call them, well, I hope my retirement isn’t invested in your company.
15. Human Resources. If there is one term we can’t stand here at Switch and Shift, you may have noticed, this is it. Try “people” instead. People are not resources, assets, or capital. They’re people. And people are a lot harder to fire than any of those less-personal words too, aren’t they? Which brings us to…
16. Let go. You’re letting me go? So if I choose to stay, I can? That’s what “let” implies. Terminating? That term’s gotta go, too. You hire people, and sometimes, unfortunately, you have to fire them. So get some guts and say it.
While these terms don’t belong on the no-say list, they are confusing, because different people mean different things by them, and sometimes those people talk to each other. Here is my advice for moving forward:
17. Enterprise. This used to mean “business,” as in any type of business. But somewhere along the line our very biggest companies started referring to themselves and each other as enterprises, and… well, they kind of own that term now. Use it for companies over $1B in size and you’ll be good.
18. SME. Some companies use this to refer to a Subject Matter Expert. Others use it to refer to Small to Mid-sized Enterprise. My advice? Go with SMB (B for Business) instead. More of us say SMB anyway, so this will be easier for you.
19. At the end of the day. “At the end of the day, the sun sets. Then night begins.” All other applications of that phrase make you sound like a blowhard or a tool, or a blowhard-tool. At the end of the fad, you’ll watch videos from 2011-14 and rue the way you used to abuse this trite saying.
Okay, as I said earlier, this list is a few shy of 101. Can you help me? Let’s crowdsource this sucker and get it done!
What’s your least-favorite term to Never Say Again?
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