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50 Horrible Cliches You Need to Stop Writing and Saying Right Now [Infographic]

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Have you recently said "the elephant in the room" and "move the needle" unironically at work? Then you need to start purging jargon from your writing and speaking right now.

Here's a look at the most annoying phrases and words being used at work, according to the following GoToMeeting infographic.

"Helicopter view" ranks high as a phrase that's obnoxious and overused. "Try a 'broad view of the business' instead," suggests GoToMeeting.

Also, consider no longer saying "ducks in a row" when at work (or home or anywhere). "This term originates from bowling, before they had a machine to set pins automatically," states the infographic. "The bowler would need to get their 'ducks in a row' before throwing the ball down the lane."

Another annoying expression is "move the needle." Instead of using that term, consider using "provoke a reaction."


To see the list of annoying phrases that you need to avoid, check out the infographic.


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Veronica Jarski is the Opinions editor and a senior writer at MarketingProfs. She can be reached at veronicaj@marketingprofs.com.

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski

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  • by Charmaine Tue Apr 12, 2016 via web

    So basically you just want people to stop talking,lol. I don't think I can live in this woman's world where she is over analyzing everything people are saying. This article is so neurotic.

  • by LT Tue Apr 12, 2016 via web

    Yes, most of these are quite annoying. But it would be more helpful to offer alternatives for all of them.

  • by dave Tue Apr 12, 2016 via web

    This article is like a mechanic telling you what's wrong with your car, but offering no solution...

  • by Frank Tue Apr 12, 2016 via web

    Thanks, funny list. What about "leverage"? Especially as a verb. Drives me nuts every time! :-)

  • by Tami Demayo Tue Apr 12, 2016 via web

    Sure, cliches can be trite, but all utterances have the potential to annoy some people. And while they are sometimes used to mask lack of knowledge or to impress, cliches are really nothing more than shorthand, a useful way of conveying a nuance to others who share your cultural references.

  • by Gail Tue Apr 12, 2016 via web

    Cliches are a form of conversational shorthand, and there's nothing wrong with that.

  • by Lorraine Wed Apr 13, 2016 via web

    Yes, these are cliches. But truth is, everyone uses them. Every day. In every email. My theory? This shortcut language is a way of bonding and asserting (corporate) tribal inclusion. I agree they don't belong in marketing content, but internal emails are another thing...

  • by Merk tehJ3rk Hudon Sun Apr 17, 2016 via web

    WHY IT HAPPENS and HOW TO PREVENT IT FROM REOCCURRING:

    This sort of stuff happens because your ENVIRONMENT is too uniform and mundane. You have been doing the SAME ROUTINE with THE SAME "YES MEN" with the same COFFEE CUP and the SAME DAMNED TIE!!

    I see this as very typical in the "business dummy" culture. You need to expand your education and social network! Demand people tell you something they like BETTER THAN MONEY before hear what spills from their mouth.
    STOP AGREEING WITH EVERYBODY AROUND YOU and stir the 5H17 pot sometimes. Throw some SCIENCE into the mix! Using real NOMENCLATURE will get you out of the business dummy haze...
    SMOKE A JOINT and TELL YOUR BOOS TO SMOKE ONE TOO!
    XD ... you guys dig this hole for yourself.

    Oh yeah... also, I will NEVER EVER stop using the word "Synergy" because of its unique explication, it does NOT simply mean that two heads are better than one, but that two heads (when working mutually symbiotic) will be mightier than what two heads can accomplish or be worth.

  • by zoei Mon Apr 18, 2016 via web

    Nice infograph but not too many suggestions of what to say instead. There's something very disconcerting about this: if one does not use these 'buzz phrases', one is considered fuddy, duddy, and "out of the loop." When one does use them, one sounds like so much blah blah blah and nothing truly gets heard. When writing up reports, various phraseologies "must" appear for the report to be considered "current." But how does one combat the buzzword blah?

  • by Diane Thu Apr 28, 2016 via web

    I absolutely LOATHE 'at the end of the day'. Ugh.
    But I love zoei's comment below and would absolutely read an article called 'Combat the buzzword blah' :)

  • by Geoff Tue May 24, 2016 via web

    Thanks for sharing this, Veronica!

    Re: people asking for other suggestions or solutions below-- "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell (yes, THAT Orwell...Mr. _Animal Farm_, _1984_, and the man who more or less set the linguistic boundaries of English-speaking politics) offers further ideas, solutions, and analysis like the above. There's a whole section on cliches that have lost their zing, like the ones in the above infographic. It'll take you ten minutes to read, and just entering the title in a search engine will find you a (legitimately) free copy.

    For example: Orwell suggests ditching "operators," or multi-word phrases that "save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables." Operators are like foam peanuts in the package of your content. Nobody wants foam peanuts where product should be. Instead, G.O. suggested sticking to "simple verbs," so your meaning is clearer.

    Word choices, before and after an Orwell makeover*:
    Operator: "render inoperative"
    simple verb: "break"

    If you love to write, or just need to write, "Politics and the English Language" has a lot of helpful suggestions. With campaign season upon us, it's also worth a look if you want to be able to parse political b.s.

    *probably the only time "Orwell makeover" has ever appeared in the English language. Great writer, not much in the swag department.

  • by Linda Paull Tue Feb 21, 2017 via web

    My most hated expression is 'rinse and repeat', and internet marketers use it CONSTANTLY

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