12 Most Offensive Phrases You Could Use in Your Business

12 Most Offensive Phrases You Could Use in Your Business

Listening to most business people talk makes me cringe. They purposely sprinkle their language with fancy schmancy catch phrases and five dollar words in what I can only assume is an effort to make up for years of being picked last in kickball. Could you be one of them?

Let’s take a look at 12 of the most offending phrases and find out…

1. Out of the box

Are you an “out of the box” thinker? Guess again. If you actually use the phrase out of the box for anything other than making fun of people that say out of the box, you are about as inside the box as you can get. You know that stray styrofoam peanut that gets wedged under the inside flap deep inside the box? Yeah, that’s you.

2. I’m a guru

Please don’t call yourself a guru just because you are pretty good at something. You aren’t a guru. If you think you are, clearly you don’t know what a guru is. It’s not clever. Nobody takes you seriously. We’re not impressed. Perhaps you should call yourself a unicorn instead. It’s equally as absurd.

3. My two cents

Is that all your advice is worth? If you don’t think that what you are about to say is worth more than 2 cents, what am I supposed to think of it? I’ll tell you what, how about you keep your 2 cents and only speak up when you are ready with your $2 million dollar advice?

4. Let me give you my card

If I wanted your card, I would have asked for it. Now you’ve not only killed a tree but because I’m going to throw away your card the second you turn around, you’ve now put it on my conscience. How about this. Make me want to ask you for your card instead. Try spending more than a few minutes with me. Learn who I am. Tell me something really interesting about yourself. This is called building a relationship.

5. Literally

I am literally going to gouge my eyes out with a dull butter knife if you continue to use the word “literally” when you literally mean figuratively. Seriously.

6. It’s not rocket science

Is this the official measurement that determines if something is difficult nowadays? It’s not rocket science. I bet it’s not a bologna sandwich either so why not use that instead? Because it doesn’t make any sense? Gotcha.

7. We have synergy

Peanut butter and chocolate have synergy. You and some guy that you just met at a local networking event do not. And telling them that you feel synergy in an effort to sell something to them or their clients is pretty crummy.

8. Social media ROI

Stop talking about ROI when it comes to social media. Social media is meant for building relationships. If that turns into business, great. If it doesn’t, great. It shouldn’t be your sole purpose. We, as your customers, friends and followers are offended by it. Ask your spouse what the ROI on your marriage is and let me know how it goes.

9. State of the art

You can’t describe something that is state of the art with a phrase that is not state of the art.

10. New media

Newsflash! The Internet is well over 20 years old. Google is almost 15 years old. Facebook is 8 years old. This is not new media. It’s media. Stop pretending like you created this new form of marketing and interaction to share with the world. You are using the same tools as the rest of us.

11. Cyberspace

Would you please just call it the Internet already? I think that pretty much covers this one.

12. To be honest with you

No, I would prefer that you lie to me. The problem with saying “to be honest with you” insinuates that everything else you have said up until this point has been a complete and utter lie. For example, I have the ability to communicate with sea urchins but to be honest with you, I really like hot dogs.

So, how did you fare? Don’t worry if you failed. We’re all guilty of blurting out a phrase or two at some point or another. Besides, who’s to say I’m even right? It’s just my 2 cents.

Featured image courtesy of Jimmy Prescott licensed via Creative Commons.


Marc Ensign

http://www.marcensign.com

I should warn you. I am not a Guru, Jedi, Rock Star or a Ninja. I'm just a guy that knows an awful lot about a bunch of stuff and I like to tell stories about it on my blog. I tend to write mostly about social media, Internet Marketing, SEO, blogging, life, business and the fuzzy stuff in between your toes. I think my stuff is really good. You'll like it…trust me. You should really check it out otherwise I might be highly offended.

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239 comments
e3TS
e3TS

I find terms like 'Blue sky thinking' and 'build a strawman' irritating. You enter a meeting and someone makes the statement, 'we need some blue sky thinking.' Oh please just say it like it is, we need ideas! :0)

thegatesoftomorrow
thegatesoftomorrow

pretty gay post. get on with life.. if you have one, that is. (remember, i'm doing you a favor)

MarcEnsign
MarcEnsign

@OverwhelmElim Thanks for the share Matt!!!

seamus clogher
seamus clogher

Sherry,think ROI means return on investment..... or perhaps they meant republic of Ireland which is a misnomer as it excludes a crucial part of our Island Nation. in any event it is interesting to read peoples views even if one does not agree with them. that is what makes this world interesting!

deanssorensen
deanssorensen

@amberrisme  I agree that some people may have difficulty communicating and overuse irritating phrases.   If you move back from this minutia, we have much large issues to deal with than criticizing speech patterns.  It seems sophomoric in my opinion.

amberrisme
amberrisme

Bravo! Loved every single one of these. I hate the word "guru" unless someone is joking. 

ir0cafro
ir0cafro

I hate when people try to use big words:for example, "Utilize" just say USE. Utilize does not give it any more emphasis than use.

CCBCarl
CCBCarl

@Skaggins I always follow that with "...I sleep." But some may use that phrase 2 mean something like "ultimately, it all boils down to..."

dbvickery
dbvickery

I do think I say "To be honest with you"...actually, it just comes out as "Honestly, I would...". I used to use the rocket science saying...just to point out that it doesn't have to be complicated. I've dropped that one when realizing it is pretty insulting.I think my skin might crawl if someone said we had synergy. And one of the things I dread most at networking events is "let me give you my card". I'd rather just get their Twitter ID which would take me to their outstandingly complete Twitter profile with a link to a blog/LinkedIn profile.

Ace
Ace

I agree with all of these except numbers 6 and 9.  In answer to your question, "Is [rocket science] the official measurement that determines if something is difficult nowadays?"; yes, it is.  When you say something is NOT rocket science, you are saying it shouldn't be as difficult as someone else it proclaiming it to be.  I find this to be a valid use of a useful term.  

About "state of the art"; if I cannot describe something that is state of the art using the phrase "state of the art", exactly how do I describe it?

davidfoertsch
davidfoertsch

One more addition - taking something to "the next level".  Also, saying something is "table stakes". An observation too - outrage experienced over use of these buzzwords changes depending on who utters them.

RLShipton
RLShipton

You missed "It is what it is"! I just want to shake them and say "But what IS it! Explain yourself!"

davetuckface
davetuckface

@Lucy_Bourne those were pretty funny. I think we were also dangerously close to using out-of-the-box on our website at one point...

LaurenceLowne
LaurenceLowne

I was really worried you were missing the most tiresome phrase, until I got to number 12, and then felt relieved other people felt the same way as I do about this conjunction of five words.

The last person, who used it in conversation with me was confirming he lied all the time, and I didn't discover the fact until some three months later - no cost to me on the money side, but loss of time and effort. He no longer works in my organisation.

joeb3219
joeb3219

@marcensign It'd make me feel special.

joeb3219
joeb3219

@marcensign Hmm. Wednesdays? That gives me some ideas. Ever think about accepting a guest post? I can email you some details.

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

Wow.. the trolls were out on this one. @MarcEnsign  - I commend you for responding in good humor.  Some people just need a target to hate at.

If someone tells me they're being honest, I immediately wonder how often they're not since they have to make a declaration about it.

Bon Crowder
Bon Crowder

I hate: "One of my pet peeves is..." - in fact a "pet" peeve is THE peeve at the very top of your peeve list. You only get one. 

If you say, "one of my pet peeves" you're implying you have many pet peeves. Which makes you an idiot.

Spatulism
Spatulism

@St1ckyJam @majornelson ha! I like it. Now I'm off to scuba in someone's think tank...

MarcEnsign
MarcEnsign

@PegFitzpatrick ...and the author is pretty hot too! (insert silence here) Thanks folks! I'll be here all night!

mitchmitch1
mitchmitch1

@StephanieDarkes attend any team meeting launch event for a corporate comapnie and you will here all of them

12Most
12Most

Honored! @mister5280 Ok I give, i'll share a link…albeit a good one. 12 Most Offensive Phrases Used in Business http://t.co/IDXPgjaf #12Most

KevinMichaelFelts
KevinMichaelFelts

Hi Marc, 

Your 12 Most blog was great...but it didn't go quite far enough; the 13th phrase that I'd never like to hear again is..."at the end of the day" used in any business context. I don't know about you, but at the end of the day, I go home and stop thinking about work! 

Christopher
Christopher

Oh, this article again. Yay. You must be an absolute joy in the work place. Do you make people leave your office, and come back in to try again when they have the audacity to use one of these phrases in your radius? 

It's fine to be annoyed by these things. But to imply that everybody has the same seething hatred for them that you do - to the point of telling them that they must be completely insecure people for resorting to phrases - is ridiculous. 

This kind of article does not help your credibility or make you seem like a "forward thinker" in your field. Shouldn't you do some research when thinking of an original subject to write about? http://lmgtfy.com/?q=10+worst+business+phrases

balamiere
balamiere

That list really shows the writer's own incompetence in communication. Full of prejudice. I guess you must hate most people at your work place. Have you ever heard of "figure of speech"?

seamus clogher
seamus clogher

i work in the Irish health service and i have heard all those terms (and more) from bullshitting managers who probably only got to be managers because they used such nonsensical terms as listed above and were promoted because they could not do their original job that they were trained to do. it is refreshing to see others pointing out those frauds and their business speak infecting what should be and is a service rather than a business. it is no wonder that our health budget per capita is the highest in the western world whilst delivering a very low service....explained by a raft of highly paid managers talking nonsense about things they know nothing about.

travisputman
travisputman

How did "Game Changer" not make this list.  It makes me cringe every time I hear it.  If it is a game that we are playing, give me a bat so I can beat you with it....

terez07
terez07

Interesting list.  Really the only phrase I dislike which is thrown around a lot when referencing social media is "thought leader."  Every time I read someone described as a thought leader, what comes to  mind is  person who people chose to follow instead of thinking for themselves. Bah!

CollinSmith1
CollinSmith1

Blah blah blah, its all figures of speech, I don't suppose you take the bible literally too? Learn to understand what people are really trying to say, not what they say, and offer alternatives in the spirit of cooperation and you'll understand that not every single person(including yourself) is a master linguist but just a person trying to get a message across.

matgeek
matgeek

11. CyberspaceWould you please just call it the Internet already? I think that pretty much covers this one.

Could everyone learn the difference between the "Internet" and the "World Wide Web"?  It's not rocket science.

Because, to be honest with you, literally no one uses the Internet anymore.

EtiquettePage
EtiquettePage

Agreed, @donaldchu! That's another good one.

jdizzlelindsay
jdizzlelindsay

This list is awful.  You sound like a pretentious douche.  Calm down; you'll live longer.

bjvom56
bjvom56

"Raise the bar" needs a spot on the list. I have a better idea; stick that damned bar where the sun never shines. Then lets head for the bar.

smilodectes
smilodectes

Is going out of your way to state you are not a guru/rockstar/nija/jedi almost as bad as stating you are one? Either way, I use new media too often and would like to run over anyone that states "the Interwebs"

HappyDuckAudio
HappyDuckAudio

@majornelson I hate 'going forward', myself. Makes me want to scream!

BTR
BTR

Cute list. Definately an entertaining read in 30-seconds. I wouldn't, however, consider the title, "12 Most Offensive Phrases ..." to be accurate. "12 Most Tiresome Phrases ..." or "12 Most Over-Used Phrases ...", maybe even "12 Most Annoying Phrases ...". In one's business an offensive phrase would be similar to these:

"Quit acting like such a skirt." or "That's mighty white of you." or "Are you trying to Jew me down in price."

These could, and should in most cases, be career killers. Your 12 are simply exhausted colloquialisms.

TomFT1
TomFT1

Pet Peeve -  People using the Bushism "The Internets" to sound like they know what they are talking about. Sorry there is only one internet. If you can show me where they are hiding the rest I will make an apology and retract my statement. It may mean Bush slipped and gave us a hint of the existence of a super secret internet.

TomFT1
TomFT1

A few others that are annoying are " It is what it is" or "I expect 110%"

kreylix
kreylix

“to be honest with you”- whenever I hear this I automatically now assume that the sayer only tells the truth part of the time...and is therefore a liar.

Hobbs
Hobbs

How did "Best Practice" not make the list.  Will "LITERALLY" (not figuratively =]) climb over this table and strangle you with your own tie!

gNav1
gNav1

How could you possibly leave out "At the end of the day..."!!I don't even know what it means but I can attest that it is never used in any context that makes sense. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it's taught to MBAs in their first consulting job, and I bet it just seals the deal with grey haired execs every time.

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