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#sowhoknew: 7 words you say that can harm your career

Business Insider have just highlighted six words (+1 added by me) that you should avoid to make you sound smarter at work. Given we should eliminate these words from our vocabulary, I have also suggested seven new ones to replace them…

Firstly let’s take a look at the words we must eradicate:

1. Stuff – the rationale for dispensing with ‘stuff’ is that it doesn’t really mean anything. Or possibly worse, it could mean everything. Or nothing.

2. Maybe – the epitome of ‘wishy-washy.’ As we all know ambiguity is always perceived negatively. Well definitely maybe…

3. Honestly – by inserting this randomly into a sentence, it kind of implies that you are telling the truth about that particular point but lying about pretty much everything else

4. Really – It was really great. Really? Yes really. Oh really. Annoying isn’t it? And really (really) adds no value.

5. Amazing – when something is amazing, it is genuinely exceptional. Love is amazing. Your new shoes are not. Consequently when you use ‘amazing’ all the time you diminish its power.

6. Never – never say never again. It’s too definitive. And it’s also likely to be a lie as you probably would do it (whatever it is you say you would never do) given the right incentive.

I’d also like to add my own contribution to make it 7. And that word is ‘like’. I don’t like, like. Particularly when it’s used as a comparison, “It’s like, you know, like it was honestly the most amazing stuff like, you know, really really like something I’ve never seen, like, ever before. ”

Like, you get the point right? So I say, like, stop saying like. It makes you sound dumb. Like.
Now then, if we are to dispense with some words in our business lexicon, I think it’s only fair to replace them with some new words. Just to even things up right? Given that it’s rather difficult to randomly make up entirely new words (trust me I’ve tried and it all sounds like Klingon) I’m attracted to the trend for ‘blending’ two existing words to explain something that was previously difficult to categorise. Here are seven examples of my current favourites:

1. Nonversation – (n) a completely pointless conversation with no purpose often heard at the start of conference calls. Basically the modern day equivalent of small talk

steve words 1

2. Askhole – (n) someone who asks completely pointless questions in a meeting just so that their voice can be heard (read my previous article Shut Up!)

3. Cellfish – (n) those people in meetings / presentations who inconsiderately focus on their mobile phone screens rather than concentrating on what is being discussed

4. Unkeyboardinated – (adj) those moments when you repeatedly make mistakes when trying to correct something on Powerpoint or Word (which usually occurs when your colleagues are watching over your shoulder)

steve words 2

5. Textpectation – (n) the overwhelming anticipation one feels when waiting eagerly for a text, email, Whatsapp message from a colleague or friend

6. Beerboarding – (v) the act of taking a colleague out for several drinks after work with the express intention of getting them tipsy so that they pass on gossip or office secrets

7. Nerdjacking – (v) – filling a conversation with totally unrelated material (e.g. a hobby) simply because you know something about it and the other (often disinterested) person doesn’t

So what are your pet hate words in business? And have you got any new blended words to add to my list?

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.
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