business cliches to avoid

Business clichés to avoid are phrases that have become so overused, they’ve become meaninglessness. Whereas once they may have had some meaning, now they do nothing more than irritate and take up space on the page.

These types of phrases may have had a legitimate origin, possibly in an academic concept (paradigm shift), creativity technique (thinking outside the box) or management insight (customer centric and results driven/orientated). Sport has inspired many business clichés to avoid, such as touch base, play hardball, move the goalposts, pick up and run with it, level playing field, by close of play, and back of the net.

Do forgive me for using a facetious blog post title. I wanted to get your attention. 😛

Impact – But the Wrong Kind

The excessive or inaccurate use of such clichés can irritate your colleagues, deaden your writing and make you sound lazy. But these obvious phrases are only half the clichéd story. There are also more subtle, single words and phrases that function as background clichés in writing because they are endlessly repeated and used to fill up space. These are called redundancies and are a plague in copywriting and other types of business writing.

What to Use Instead of Business Clichés

  • Think through what exactly you want to say. Be specific. Are you resorting to clichés because your own thinking is vague or half-formed?
  • If you find yourself about to use a cliché, translate it into its true meaning. This helps you communicate better with your clients and teams. For example, instead of calling someone a thought leader, simply say that they’re a skilled [job title], respected in the [industry] field with qualifications in X, Y experience and Z achievements. The same goes for ninja and rock star, only more so…
  • Allow yourself to employ words that could be thought of as clichés – if used improperly. Synergy has become an overused word in the business world. It is even used as a business name by many. But, when used in so many contexts, its impact goes limp. And, yet, it has a legitimate meaning if you’re talking about how iTunes worked with iPod to create something that was greater than the sum of their parts, for example. So, think whether a word normally labelled as a cliché fits the context (this will narrow its use naturally and prevent you from falling into the cliché pit) and assert your right to use it – correctly.
  • Some of what are called clichés in the marketing realm are in fact simply lies. No, your product is not world class, state of the art, premium, tailor made or next generation. It is mass produced and easily available. This is hyperbole – talking something up so much it sounds ridiculous. You’re better than this.

By taking small actions to remove these phrases from your copywriting, you can stand out above 90% of every other piece of marketing collateral out there. Replace them with rich, descriptive words and phrases that show originality, convey meaning and transmit your key marketing messages – without the cheese.

My win/win aspiration is that you’ve taken advantage of fully synergising with this feature rich, conveniently located thought-repository in real time.

I hope you liked reading this blog post. Let me know what business clichés you tend to fall back on. Want more? Read The 10 Worst Business Phrases of All Time and The 8 Worst Written Business Phrases of All Time.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash