Everyone has their own pet hates when it comes to the type of language that’s used in the office. What irritates one person might be perfectly fine to another and vice versa. There’s a general hatred of business jargon that exists even in the people who use it the most, and it’s a wonder that we ever use it at all. Still, it’s been around for so long by this point that it’s doubtful we’ll ever get rid of it. It’s a necessary evil of daily corporate life.
While we might not be able to get rid of business jargon, we can certainly get rid of a few old business cliches. Some sayings have existed in the business world since our grandparents were young, and most of them are inaccurate. Even some of those that might once have been accurate have grown so old and so outdated that they no longer apply. The longer they stick around, the less helpful they become. That’s because most of them constitute bad advice, and bad advice is the last thing you need in a busy workplace. These are the five business cliches we despair about the most, along with the reasons why it’s high time you stamped them out in your office!
You Have To Speculate To Accumulate
No, you don’t. You can grow slowly and steadily without really risking anything at all. It might sometimes make sense to take a calculated risk if you can clearly see a path to success and the potential gains exceed the potential losses, but such opportunities are few and far between. Would you tell yourself that you have to “speculate to accumulate” if you were about to spend your entire month’s salary at an online slots website? Of course you wouldn’t. You’d tell yourself that you don’t have enough control over the outcome of an online slots game, and risking your entire salary in the hope of winning something would be extremely foolish. We’re not saying that every risk you might take in business is equivalent to playing casino, but in cases where you don’t have direct control over the outcome, they often are. You do not always have to speculate to accumulate. You might sometimes want to, but that’s far less snappy as a catchphrase.
It Is What It Is
This phrase is an appalling abdication of responsibility, and its implications are dreadful. Nothing ever “is what it is” by accident. There’s always a reason why things are the way there are, and there are options when it comes to what you can do about it. Someone who tries to tell you that something “is what it is” is probably responsible for the situation being what it is and would like to move on from that point as quickly as possible. Don’t let them. You should never be expected to just ‘deal with’ something because the facts have been presented to you and cannot be changed. That’s what this cliche invites you to do. If you don’t know why something is the way it is, you don’t have enough information to decide what to do about it. Challenge this cliche every time you hear it.
This Is A Win-Win Situation
No, it isn’t. Someone is losing something; otherwise, there wouldn’t be anything to negotiate about in the first place. Every decision has consequences, and not all of the consequences of that decision will be positive. The negatives might only be minor – so minor, in fact, that you’d call them negligible – but they still exist, and they should be considered. Win-win situations don’t really exist. We shouldn’t really want them to do. If we’re in a situation where both outcomes are equally positive, then we have no way of choosing between them. It also suggests that both outcomes are ‘good’ instead of being ‘great.’ Someone who tells you that you’re facing a win-win situation probably hasn’t considered all of the variables or doesn’t want to tell you about the potential pitfalls. Challenge them on this. Tell them you want to hear the downsides, and don’t allow them to tell you there aren’t any.
Thinking Outside the Box
Everyone should be doing this by default. If someone who works in a creative role for you has to be directly asked to think outside the box, they’re not suited for their role. If someone asks you to think outside the box, they’ve effectively accused you of a lack of imagination. That’s an insult, and you should respond to it accordingly. Nobody should think inside boxes. Nobody has ever been asked to think outside boxes. Clever, creative people will consider all possibilities when trying to come up with solutions to problems, and they don’t need a cliche throwing at them to help them do it. It’s best to assume that everyone is thinking ‘outside the box’ already and consign this abominable buzz-phrase to the wastebin of history.
It’s On My Radar
Do you have a radar? Does the person you’re speaking to have a radar? Unless you work in a job where radar equipment plays an essential role, we’re guessing the answer to that question is ‘no.’ Someone who tells you that your question, job, or issue is ‘on their radar’ is actually giving you the brush-off, and they’re going it in a very dismissive fashion. When someone tells you that you (or your issue) is ‘on their radar,’ what they’re actually saying to you is, “I know you exist, but I’m not ready or willing to deal with you yet.” That’s not good enough in an office context. You have a right to know where you are on the list of priorities, and when you can expect a response, whether that response is the answer to a question or the creation of a product. “It’s on my radar” is about as useful as “it’s in my in-tray,” and it should have been thrown out of the office at around the same time that in-trays were.
We shouldn’t allow cliches to wash over our heads and go unchallenged. They’re signs of lazy thinking, and lazy thinking doesn’t get things done. Ban them from your workplace. You might encourage people to think and behave more creatively by doing so. Even if you don’t, you should still find that you and your staff start having more specific, productive conversations.
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