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Words at Work

25 buzzwords that make smart people sound stupid

At first, euphemisms surfaced in the workplace to help people deal with touchy subjects that were difficult to talk about. Before long, they morphed into corporate buzzwords that expanded and took over our vocabulary until our everyday conversations started sounding like they’re taking place on another planet:

“Listen Ray, I don’t have the bandwidth for it with everything that’s on my plate, but ping me anyway because at the end of the day it’s on my radar and I don’t want to be thrown under the bus because I didn’t circle back around on this no-brainer.”

I understand the temptation. These phrases are spicy and they make you feel clever (low hanging fruit is a crutch of mine), but they also annoy the heck out of people.

If you think that you can use these phrases without consequence, you’re kidding yourself. Just pay close attention to how other people react to your using them, and you’ll see that these phrases don’t cast you in a favorable light.

After all, TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence of more than a million people and one of the biggest need areas for most people is social awareness. Most of us are so focused on what we’re saying and what we’re going to say next that we lose sight of how our words affect other people.

So give these words a read, think of how often you use some of them, and see if you can catch yourself before you use them again.

Have some fun with it, because at the end of the day if you don’t hit the ground running you can always go back to the drawing board and get the ball rolling …

  • Think outside the box
  • Thrown under the bus
  • Reinvent the wheel
  • Get the ball rolling
  • No brainer
  • Elephant in the room
  • Apples to apples
  • Win-win
  • Back to the drawing board
  • Hit the ground running
  • On my plate
  • At the end of the day
  • Low hanging fruit
  • Let’s touch base
  • Get my manager’s blessing
  • It’s on my radar
  • Ping me
  • I don’t have the bandwidth
  • Par for the course
  • Bang for your buck
  • Synergy
  • Move the goal post
  • Circle back around
  • All hands on deck
  • Take this offline

Which phrases are your pet peeves? Please share them.

It’ll also be fun to read the ridiculous sentences you can come up with using the words above.

Because, after all, I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Travis Bradberry is the co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the co-founder of TalentSmart.

This column first appeared on LinkedIn.

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