Avoid These 6 Phrases in Business

The words we use in our everyday business communication make a difference. At Marco, we have identified a series of cliché phrases to avoid. Although they may be commonly used, I don’t feel they enhance the message. In fact, I think they make the conversation too “salesy.” I have challenged our sales team to avoid using these phrases in their business discussions.

Here are six phrases that I recommend to stop using and why:

  1. I’m just touching base.
    The conversation can just end there. It makes the call or email sound unproductive and is far too easy to ignore. I prefer a more meaningful purpose for the engagement. I actually find it refreshing when a salesperson calls me and says, “The purpose of my call today is to check on the progress of the proposal and find out when we can move forward.”
  2. To tell you the truth (or to be honest).
    If you have to say this, it can suggest you may not have been honest up to that point. When it is used, it’s typically not in the right context. A better option would be to start the conversation with “In my opinion” or “In my experience.” I believe this establishes more credibility and more accurately positions what you are going to say.
  3. At the end of the day.
    This is just a filler. This overused phrase is intended to introduce an important outcome you want the receiver to remember. Think about how much more effective it would be to just state your intended point. For example, instead of saying “At the end of the day…,” use something more direct like “The key points I want to emphasize are…” or “The purpose of my presentation was to demonstrate…”
  4. I’m a people person.
    This overly used phrase bugs me the most. No one ever tells me, “I really don’t like people and I’m hard to get along with.” Instead of saying you’re a people person like everyone else does, share examples that confirm your relationship building capabilities. Why do you fit well on your current team? How do you build a strong circle of influence? (View my blog on expanding your circle of influence.) This is a better way to demonstrate your ability to work well with others.
  5. I’m working on it.
    This is often a code word for “I have not gotten to it yet” or “I am not even close to being done.” I understand that it takes time to get some tasks or projects completed. However, I’d rather hear a progress report or even better, a timeline on when to expect the project to be finished.  
  6. I’m not one to say bad things about __________.
    Fill in the blank with a competitor’s name, boss or even a colleague. A “but” is sure to follow, and the person usually goes on to say exactly what they said they weren’t going to do. This phrase is an instant credibility buster for me.

So to tell you the truth at the end of the day, I just want to touch base to tell you that I am a people person and I am working on it. I’m really not one to say bad things about people, but … How often have you heard a string of beauties like this? They help fill the air, but really don’t say much.

Removing these phrases challenges us to insert more meaningful words into our conversations. Each offers an opportunity to enhance credibility and really engage someone.

Do you have a phrase you feel is overused or should be avoided in business? Share it in the comment section below or on Marco’s Facebook page.

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Topics: Leadership, Sales Behaviors, Business Services