5 words and phrases we should ditch in 2018

Are thought leaders actually taking your disruptive business to the next level? Perfect. Grateful to have these vacuous terms called out? Hey, no worries.

We live in an age where when empty designations and verbal tics litter otherwise sensible conversations and writings.

Here are five terms that have worn out their welcome (if a welcome was ever extended):

1. Thought leader(ship). An executive who cobbles together old ideas—along with a dollop of the flavor of the month—into a blog post or mission statement does not qualify as a thought leader. Save this term for—no, on second thought, don’t save it at all. If you have an innovative exec, call her an innovator. A prominent figure in a given field? A leading industry voice. The alternatives might not be brilliant, but at least they won’t evoke eye-rolling and stifled chuckles. If you call yourself a thought leader, well, you deserve all the raucous derision you get.

2. Take X to the next level. This is as meaningless as it is prevalent in business writing. Unless you sell escalators, relegate this blather to the basement. If you are improving or accelerating a campaign or expanding a business, say so. Offer specifics.

3. Disruptive. Know what’s disruptive? Tossing a pumpkin into a punch bowl at a party, or skateboarding down a long conference table. Someone—somewhere, sometime—coined this fetid term, and it gathered steam. Time to pull the plug.

4. Actually. This is the new literally. It’s offered for emphasis, but instead it suggests that what came before is not to be believed. It also wastes the writer’s and readers’ time. (See also: truly, really.) Delete it; it won’t be missed.

5. No worries. If someone says, “Thank you,” just respond, “You’re welcome.” (You might also say, “My pleasure,” if that’s the case.) No one is worried in this instance; he’s just expressing gratitude. Similarly, “perfect” as a response should be retired. “I’ll have the cauliflower ice cream.” “Perfect.” Hardly.

Bonus atrocities: Please, please, please stop using spend and ask as nouns. They make the speaker sound like a preschooler. Try spending or expense or cost for the former and request or even favor, when applicable, for the latter. Also, please note the adjustment to where in the opening paragraph of this article. Use when, not where, as a modifier for time-based concepts.

My rant ends here. Now it’s your turn: What hackneyed terms do you want jettisoned? Please offer your peeves—and alternatives—in the comments section.


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