Language check: Erase these phrases


ChatA goal of business leaders is to effectively communicate with the troops. And yes, this is a two-sided coin – the goal of the troops is to effectively communicate with the leaders. Here then is a handy list of what NOT to say, unless your goal is to annoy those with whom you are talking.

The list comes from Accountemps, which came up with it by polling more than 600 human resources managers.

“When it comes to effective communication in the workplace, the importance of clarity cannot be stressed enough,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian district president of Accountemps. “To avoid ambiguity and confusion when communicating, the use of buzzwords and industry jargon should be avoided in favour of straightforward and uncomplicated language.”

The phrases were presented in three general groups. The first was, well, general; the second, it was suggested, pertained to possibly burned out employees; and the third were classics that just won’t go away.

Here – drum roll please – they are.

“Out of pocket”
“Deep dive”
“Let me get back to you.”
“Pick your brain”
“Employee engagement”

Signs of employee burnout
“It’s not my job.”
“It’s above my pay grade.”
“When am I going to get a raise?”
“I am overwhelmed.”
“Crunch time”

“Think outside the box.”
“At the end of the day”
“Circle back”

RBR-TVBR observation: Our own pet peeve involves the use of letter clusters that are meant to be shorthand for text messages but have crept into language as – well, we are not going to suggest for even a second that they are actual words – but an example on this list is LOL. Another big one we hear all the time is OMG, and there are countless others. These letter clusters have no business being used in common everyday language, and can make communication with a teenager not much different than it might be were you to attempt to have a chat with a just-landed alien from some other galaxy.



  1. Thank you for such a timely article. We forbid the use of these buzzwords in our office. The wrong use of “awesome” is one of our pet peeves. Further, we don’t permit texting abbreviations in any of our documents.

    My firm stance is that if you are either a paid or volunteer worker, do a professional job in each case and show it in your grammar.

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