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Banned: Six Business Buzzword Sins

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Business buzzwords invade boardrooms, emails, marketing meetings and can even pop-up on company websites. These words are overused to the point they no longer have any impact. Everyone is guilty of using these words to some degree – yes, that’s everyone. Here are six business clichés you should ban from your office forever.


Innovation is arguably the biggest (and worst) buzzword in the world of business. Most estimates suggest that innovation lost all meaning altogether at some point in the summer of 2017 after reaching peak usage. True innovation is about working on valuable solutions to problems. Unless you have created a completely new product or service, you’re not innovative. But you don’t have to be innovative to succeed. Thousands of businesses flourish by taking old ideas and making them better. Focus on evolution, not revolution.


Synergy is the interaction between two or more companies to produce a common goal. This can include mergers and acquisitions or starting a complimentary business. However, it has become a cliché in the business community. “Collaboration” or “teamwork” is just fine.

Paradigm shift

A paradigm shift can be summarised as meaning the following: A fundamental change in the usual way of thinking or doing something. It has become a redundant word since it can refer to any major changes in the way we understand and perform things. There are other ways to say paradigm shift that have more impact. It’s a phrase to forget. Instead, start highlighting ways your business can look it at its current model from different perspectives.


Visionary is often misused in business. A true visionary is someone who can plan out the future with creativity and invent inspired ideas. The word commonly gets used to describe anyone who comes up with ideas that deviate from the mainstream. It’s overused and doesn’t give any specifics. You can be interested in improvement and change without being a visionary. Avoid.


Leverage refers to the ability to influence change. It’s a word that often pops up when referring to strategies, but it is overused – and annoying. It’s a fancy way to say “use”. “Leverage” won’t make you sound smarter in your emails or in conversation. The truth of the matter is when you keep your language simple, you sound much more competent.

Think outside the box

Among the well-worn phrases in business is “think outside the box”. It’s a cliché we hear all the time. It’s supposed to mean thinking from a new, creative perspective. But, in our fast-paced, digital world, “thinking outside the box” is something most people do every day. Anyone who wants to succeed must possess creative problem solving. In the modern world, there is no room for anything other than “thinking outside the box,” so it’s a phrase with little value these days. It’s best to avoid the box altogether. Throw it out.

Workplace communications should be straightforward and direct. More importantly, it should be easy to understand. Cutting out jargon and communicating with specific concepts, rather than generalisations, will increase efficiency, build trust amongst staff and – perhaps most importantly – cut some of those wordier emails in half.

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