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5 Meaningless Buzzwords You Should Stop Using

Buzzwords can sneak up on an office. You throw out a cliched phrase once in while, and before you know it you're promoting synergy through dynamic, forward-thinking initiatives that are completely out-of-the-box. It seems innocuous, but the problem with buzzwords comes down to clarity. When a word or phrase gets used so freely that it loses real meaning, you should cut it from your vocabulary. Here are five phrases that you should replace with sentences that say what you really mean:

1. 'Bleeding Edge'
If your business is creating something brand-new, don't describe it as being the "bleeding edge." Don't even call it cutting edge if you can avoid it. Think of this as an exercise in showing rather than telling. If something is truly innovative, it's better to describe the unmet need it's filling than to fill your pitch or business card with boastful phrases. If you can't find a way to explain why, exactly, your product or business is so unique, then "on the bleeding edge" isn't accurate to begin with.

2. 'Take it to the Next Level'
People use this phrase as a stand-in for whatever it is they actually want to happen next. What is the next level? Is the next level moving the idea to development? Is it pitching it to higher-ups? Is it simply completing the project? Whatever the "next level" is, just say that instead. If you don't, you run the risk of your teammates having a slightly different interpretation of what you mean. Simply telling everyone what the next steps are will prevent confusion and frustration when things aren't happening the way you expected.

3. 'Many Moving Parts'
If you say your company has many moving parts, you might think you're describing your business as being complicated and well-thought-out. You're not. As Forbes points out, lots of complicated but ultimately useless things have many moving parts. Avoid comparing your business to a Rube Goldberg machine and instead say it straight, even if saying it straight means saying, "I'm not fully prepared to talk about all of the different factors that go into that. Can I get back to you?"

4. 'It Is What It Is'
This is, perhaps, the most useless phrase in the business lexicon. Unlike many of the other phrases on this list that can be replaced with more accurate sentences, this phrase is usually best replaced by saying absolutely nothing at all. If you ever feel that this phrase is really necessary, think about why you feel that way. Is it because you're not able to make the changes someone is asking for? Are you frustrated by a project's lack of mobility? Verbalizing your motivation will prevent you from stewing in whatever's going on, and will help your teammates have a better understanding of the situation as you see it.

5. 'Give 110 Percent'
There are few phrases guaranteed to inspire rolling eyes than "giving 110 percent." Sure, everyone knows you don't actually want them to do more than is physically possible for the task at hand. But again, this comes down to clarity of language and avoiding confusing wording. Instead of asking your team to give 110 percent, ask them to prioritize this project, or to send the proposal through an extra round of edits. If you're using it as an attempt to motivate people who you feel haven't been working at a high enough caliber, cliched phrases aren't the answer. In that case, you need to be sitting down face to face to address performance issues, not hoping that they get the message in meetings or company emails.

Whenever you're considering using a buzzword, just ask yourself what you really mean. Resolve to say that instead, and you'll find yourself getting the results you were looking for.

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