Today’s 10 Worst Phrases to Use in Business

In January 2009, YouGov published their list of the 10 worst business sayings. Some I more than agreed with (“thinking outside of the box,” “blue-sky thinking,” “heads up”); some didn’t bug me too much (“at the end of the day,” “going forward,” “credit crunch”). But it also got me thinking about my own version of the 10 worst business sayings.

Consequently, I compiled my own list, complete with definitions and — most importantly — accompanying reasons why they were included.

The first three top my list for their gross factor, pure and simple. Why? Because regardless of the people or situation in question, I’ve found the overt or indirect referencing of bodily functions in a business environment gets me down.

1. Pick your brain: Substituted when someone simply wants to ask you something.

“Do you mind if I just pick your brain?”

2. Throw it against the wall and see what sticks: Often used to describe a haphazard approach to presenting a motley product line, batch of ideas, etc. “Well, let’s just throw these against the wall and see what sticks.”

3. Sweat equity: Offered up when asking people to give their time and talent, and payment is not available. “We can’t pay you your rate now, but — when we do start making money — you’ll definitely have sweat equity.”

The next three were included due to their cliché factor. Like “thinking outside the box” and “blue-sky thinking,” their overuse means they no longer catch our attention.

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One response to “Today’s 10 Worst Phrases to Use in Business

  1. “Opportunistic” has been used quite a bit lately. What is usually meant is that a methodical and strategic decision has been made in the right environment. Opportunistic is most often used in conjunction with the word infection – “feeding on whatever is available or acting without regard to consequences.” How people ever started using the word in this manner is quite puzzling. I, personally, will put some sweat equity into putting its use into past history!

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