• Business cliches can be helpful metaphors
  • Overusing business cliches makes you look and sound idiotic
  • Replace cliches with clear and simple terms to get your point across
It’s one of those excruciatingly long and boring conference calls where it seems like nothing’s getting done.


Because everyone is just blabbing out bullshit business cliches for quality air time and exposure with the higher-ups in the org, some of whom are fucking clueless executives that can’t tell their ass from their elbow.

The worst offenders are the cyberloafing slackers that don’t have the mental capacity or capability to use normal phrases to clearly and efficiently explain things. Their entire vocabulary is pretty much one cliche after another.

It’s time that we kill these stupid business cliches and start talking like normal human beings.

Why It’s Important To Stop Using Business Cliches

It’s one thing to rely on business cliches when you’re a newbie just starting out your career. You don’t know much of the language, terms and vocabulary of your industry. So, it’s natural, logical and comforting to adopt commonly used phrases as you build up and improve your knowledge and skills.

However, that’s not you. You’re a seasoned office jockey, a cubicle veteran, a white-collar warrior, etc. You’re not a rookie anymore.

When you solely rely on overused buzzwords and phrases to express yourself, your thoughts and ideas, it makes you look and sound like an unoriginal and annoying corporate dork.

We’re not saying that you need to eliminate all such phrases from your vocabulary. Everyone uses a few biz cliches here and there on occasion and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, sometimes, it’s unavoidable, kinda like premeetings.

However, when you rely on nothing but business cliches, you’re sending out a vibe to others that you lack the capability to express yourself in a clear, coherent and authentic way. All you’re doing is regurgitating and recycling stupid corporate babble.

This hilarious 2-minute video clip encapsulates the whole concept perfectly.

VIDEO: What Corporate People Sound Like
YOUTUBE: Tripp and Tyler
LENGTH: 2:03
We’ve all sounded like this to varying degrees in our jobs - no question about it. And, when it gets out of hand, we sound ridiculous.

On the other hand, when you’re able to convey things with originality or even in just simple and basic terms that everybody can understand, you gain more credibility and boost your personal brand and reputation.

Overused Business Cliches That Need To Be Dropped

Is there anything more tedious and annoying than sitting in a meeting and listening to someone use countless business cliches?

You know the ones I'm talking about - phrases like "thinking outside the box," "moving the ball forward," and "getting our ducks in a row" They sound so polished and professional, but they're actually just meaningless bullshit gibberish.

It's time to put an end to these overused expressions, once and for all. So let's take a stand against business cliches and pledge to never use them again.

With that said, here’s our big list of dumb business cliches that need to be killed off.

“Bring your ‘A’ game”
What the fuck does this mean? Does this mean that we have B and C games too? Just say that you gotta get in the zone and really focus on this as a priority.

"Drink the Kool-Aid"
This is a stupid ass metaphor for conforming and/or being in agreement with the group. So, just say it like that.

“30,000 foot view”
You’re not an airline pilot and you’re not scaling Mount Everest. So, drop this and instead, just say that you need to look at this more broadly.

"Paradigm shift"
This 90’s phrase needs to be dropped like baggy carpenter jeans from that era. How about just using “a really big change” instead?

"Boil the ocean"
This is just another dumb way to just say that the task or project is impossible to do and that there just isn’t enough resources, time or energy to do it.

"Low-hanging fruit"
This is like free donuts at work. All this means is the easiest and quick wins. So, forget the fruit and just say that it’s the easiest opportunity.

"Move the needle"
Your work isn’t being tracked by a speedometer or a scale. Just say that progress needs to be made or that more shit needs to get done.

"One throat to choke"
Using negative metaphors is never good. All you really need to say instead is that there should be one person to contact for all the problems.

“Bite the bullet”
This originated during the civil war where soldiers would bite on a bullet as a way to endure the pain of surgery. In today’s world, just say that it’s time to do the thing you don’t want to do.

"Run it up the flagpole"
This is just another way to say that you need to review it with executive management. Leave the flagpole duties to the facilities guys.

"On the bleeding edge”
How this went from “leading edge” to “bleeding edge” is anybody’s guess. How about just saying the most advanced technology? Okay?

"Think outside the box”
Ironically, most of us work in boxes. The building is a box. The cubicle is a box. Does this phrase mean that we can work remotely forever now? Forget this and just say that more creativity or non-traditional thinking is needed.

"Peeling the onion”
Please don’t do this at work - have some cubicle etiquette dammit. What this really means is that more things will be discovered when you take a closer look at the details.

"When push comes to shove”
Are you really going to get physical and throw punches? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Just say that if things get worse or escalate in intensity, you will need to resort to final options.

“Find synergy”
This is a contraction of the two words synchronous and energy. It’s a buzzword that just won’t go away. But, you can start by using terms like efficiency, ideal partnership, mutual cooperation, etc.

“Par for the course”
If there’s one sport that is closely tied to business, it’s golf. But, is golf still important for your career? We don’t think so. For this phrase, just say that this is normal and expected.

“Tee it up”
This is another golf-based metaphor that is meant for trying something or make an attempt to do something. In other words, giving it a try. So, why not say it that way?

"Out of pocket”
How this phrase became a thing to mean not available is beyond us. We have no fucking clue. Just say that you’re not available at the moment or out of the office.

“Circle the wagons”
This was a defensive tactic that migrating settlers would use when there was an impending attack. You’re not part of any horse-drawn wagon caravan. So, just say that you need to start protecting yourselves.

"Take it offline”
Yes, everything is online these days. But when you’re wanting to have additional side conversations to talk in more detail, just say that.

"It is what it is”
This is often said when something’s unavoidable and already done and that there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s accepting the current situation and not trying to undo or change things.

“Thrown under the bus”
This is when somebody talks negatively about someone else and puts them in a bad or tough situation. Nobody likes to get thrown under the bus.

"Take it to the next level”
As in the elevator or stairs? This one’s so vague. Be clear about it and say it more concretely like expanding the program, increasing profits, improving service, etc.

“Singing the same tune”
Unless you’re at the karaoke bar for happy hour with coworkers, this metaphor should be replaced with all in agreement, group consensus, following the same plans and so forth.

“In the weeds”
You may be a hobby gardener on the weekends, but at work, you’re working a keyboard, not the backyard soil. Use terms like getting into the fine details, reviewing specifics, working day-to-day operations.

“Crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s”
You’re well past elementary school and so is everyone else that you work with. This is just a nonsensical way of saying that you need to pay attention to the details and make sure everything is correct.

“Break down the silos”
You don’t work on a farm. There are no grain silos at your office and you and your coworkers don’t work in silos. Get rid of the metaphor and just say that departments and groups need to work together collaboratively.

“Raise the bar”
You doin’ high jump at the office? Didn’t think so. Replace this cliche with more specific terms like improve customer service, maximize revenues, increase quality, etc.

“Push the envelope”
The only time you really should say this is when you’re dropping a letter in the mailbox. Otherwise, use terms like over-achieve, maximize capabilities, extend yourself, etc.

“In the pipeline”
Unless you work in the oil industry, stop using this term. Rather, use words like to-do list, upcoming projects, in progress etc.

“Touch base”
Are you playing tag at work? As much as we feel it’s important to have fun at work, this phrase should be replaced with a follow-up meeting or conversation.

“Sharpen your pencil”
The #2 pencil and scantron sheets are extinct and so this phrase should be too. What this really means is that you need to improve your offer or proposal.

“Ducks in a row”
You’re not a duck and you don’t have any ducklings. This is about making sure that you’ve got all your tasks and/or items ready. All your shit is sorted out.

“Drop the ball”
This is when you fuck up an important task. It comes from sports where a player dropped the ball during a key play. Substitute this with “made a huge mistake.”

“Nuclear option”
This is a metaphor for the last possible option to wipe everything out. Substitute this with the more simple terms of “last resort” or something along the lines of “ending everything.”

“Preaching to the choir”
Leave the religious ranting out of office politics. Just say that you’re wasting your time persuading the people that are already on board.

“Eat your own cooking”
Well, if you pack your lunch for work, then this is one of the few cliches that are valid. What this really means is that you need to use your own product or service.

“Pick your brain”
Nobody’s performing brain surgery, so drop this term. Just ask if you can get their advice, thoughts or perspective on something.

“Dive deep”
Like scuba diving? Shallow diving seems a lot more appealing. Delete this from your office speak and use in-depth or comprehensive instead.

“Get granular”
Sugar is granular and so is salt and sand. But for your work, use words like greater detail and very specific.

“Have the bandwidth”
If you’re talking about your office internet speeds, then fine. But if you’re talking about a person’s or group’s capacity, time or availability, just say that instead.

“With all due respect”
When you hear this, get ready, you’re about to be bitch-slapped. You’re better off hearing something like “I don’t mean to be rude or impolite” but they’re gonna be anyways.

“Door is always open”
Wouldn’t it be great if we all had our own private offices instead of cubicles or open offices? Then this metaphor could actually be real. Until then, tell people that you’re available to talk.

"Get with the program"
This is another vague phrase. What it really means is that the key people on a project need to join and contribute toward the goals instead of slacking off and cyberloafing all day.

"Be a team player"
As in, stop being such a pain-in-the-ass coworker. Ask for their cooperation and support for your tasks and projects.

"Wrap your head around it”
This is for when you need to fully understand something or “get it” completely. So just say it like that and keep it clear.

"Step up to the plate"
This baseball metaphor is about taking responsibility for an important task, assignment or request. Not everybody understands baseball terms, so use simpler terms.

"Pull your own weight”
As in do your fucking job and do it well. Don’t be a slacker. This is about being a meaningful contributor to the team and getting your grunt work done.

"Come to Jesus"
This is for those challenging moments when the hard, ugly truth of something needs to be shared and discussed. Say it that way and leave Jesus out of stupid meetings.

“Circle back”
If you’re doing walking laps at work, big ups to you for getting your easy workouts in at the office. Otherwise, stop using this and replace it with follow-up.

"Stay in your lane"
This isn’t about weaving or staying in the lane during your daily commute. This is about doing your own work and not extending yourself to other areas that you’re not responsible for.

"Let’s regroup"
As in schedule yet another time-suck premeeting. This is synonymous with “touch base” and should be replaced with follow-up.

“Elephant in the room”
This is the big obvious problem that nobody has mentioned or brought up. It’s being ignored. Be brave and call it out as “the big obvious problem”.

Drop The Cliches & Be Clear Instead

Cliches. They do make life easier, don't they?

We use them to communicate ideas and/or concepts quickly and easily. But sometimes cliches are so overused that they lose all meaning.

And when it comes to office speak, there are some cliches that need to die a quick death. But, they still continue to thrive in today’s workplace.

Using them every once in a while is harmless and sometimes, really useful. However, using them all the time just makes you look like a shallow, inept person that can’t convey thoughts clearly in your own words.

Let’s put an end to the meaningless corporate babble and start using real, simple, clear and specific terms.

It’s time for all of us to cut back on our “Kool-Aid” consumption.

Feel Better,

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