Ditch these overused business clichés in favor of more straightforward language:
- “At the end of the day.” It’s just filler. Forget the phrase and get to the point.
- “Think outside the box.” A “Be creative” will suffice.
- “Push the envelope.” That’s just another way to say “Take risks.”
- “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” The phrase is vague. Offer more specific guidance about which aspects should stay the same and which ones should change.
- “The ball is in your court.” Enough with the sports analogies. Just say “The decision is yours to make.”
- “Work smarter, not harder.” Tell people how to be more efficient.
- “Low-hanging fruit.” It undermines the importance of your customers or goals by suggesting that some don’t require much effort. Treat all business objectives the same way.
- “Failure is not an option.” Failure is always a possibility, and that phrase does nothing more than cause employees fear and anxiety.
- “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” An actual time estimation to launch a new initiative or make a change is much more useful.
I know I am one to use “out-side the box thinking” when I write and speak, so I’m setting a goal to eliminate it.
Do you use any of the phrases above? If so which ones?
[Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cutiemoo.
We’ve all dealt with our fair share of difficult coworkers. I think I probably have struggled the most with emotional coworkers. You know, those people who overreact and cry or scream when something doesn’t go just right. They don’t have the ability to control their emotions (not even at work), and it seems like the most trivial of things can set them off.
I’ve had a few encounters with such people, and I am always left so angry after dealing with them. After all, what gives them the right to burden me with their emotional baggage, especially when I am trying to do my job? Why should I suffer because they can’t manage their stress or time or feelings?
Luckily, it’s been a while since I have had to deal with an emotional coworker, but I am sure the day might come again. When it does, I am going to follow this advice from the March issue of Communication Briefings.
When you find yourself in conflict with an emotional coworker, don’t try to rationalize with the person—even if you are right. Common sense doesn’t usually prevail when emotions are involved. Also, don’t immediately jump to problem-solving mode. Unless the person calms down, you won’t gain his or her cooperation. Instead, ease the tension by actively listening:
- Stay calm. Relax your posture, and be mindful of your expressions. Keep your voice soft and kind. The person is likely to mirror your behavior and calm down. That opens up the possibility for a quicker resolution.
- Allow the person to voice his or her side—completely. Fight the urge to jump in and offer your opinion, negate the person’s words or justify your actions.
- Seek understanding. Paraphrase and ask questions to clarify why the person is emotional. Say: “What I am hearing you say is … Is that correct?”
- Move forward. Ask the person: “Do you want to discuss solutions now? Or should we schedule a follow-up?” Follow through on whatever the person decides.
— Adapted from “How to Handle 3 Kinds of Conflict,” Dan McCarthy, Great Leadership, http://www.greatleadership.com.
photo credit: Ewan Bellamy
Each month in Communication Briefings, our Words in Action feature explains the proper use of commonly confused words. The sample that follows explains why the signs on a store express lane should say “10 items or fewer,” not “less.”
Use fewer when referring to items that you can count. Examples: “This checkout counter is reserved for customers with 10 items or fewer.” “The assignment took fewer days to complete than I had expected.” Use less when referring to quantities that can’t be counted and to sums of money. Examples: “He needed less time to complete the task than I did.” “The new equipment cost less than $1,000.”
What misused words irritate you?