After logging countless hours in meetings across the country, I've determined that a few key phrases spill across our lips (yes, I'm guilty too) and need to be retired. The problem with these phrases is not that we don’t understand them, but that they’re universal cop-outs for more eloquent speech. We’re taking a pledge to do a mental pause before saying another one of these off-the-cuff idioms. Sure, it may be hard at first, but we guarantee you’ll feel a tinge of pride when you’re able to circumvent one of these hollow phrases.
1) APPLES TO APPLES – A phrase. A game. A lie. No one who ever says this phrase is actually comparing apples. There’s only one place this phrase is even remotely safe…an apple orchard (no one likes bruised apples). So unless you work for a fruit company, keep this one out of the meeting.
THE ALTERNATIVE: Let’s be sure we’re doing a fair comparison. (Sounds so much nicer, no?)
2) CIRCLE BACK AROUND - I would LOVE this phrase if it meant we got to take a break and actually circle around something! A quick walk around the building, a trip to the water cooler, heck, a bathroom break would be nice sometimes. So yeah, if we were “circling back around” that’d be awesome. But we’re not.
THE ALTERNATIVE: We’ll come back to this.
3) LET’S TABLE THAT – This is typically said with the speaker’s hands motioning to the table in front of him or her. Anymore tabled conversations and the table is going to snap.
THE ALTERNATIVE: Let’s schedule another meeting to discuss that topic.
4) SOONER RATHER THAN LATER - …so you mean right now? Because let’s be honest, anytime we’ve heard this phrase, the person means immediately.
THE ALTERNATIVE: Right now. (Wow, that was simple! No more ambiguity!)
5) SOUP TO NUTS - I had never heard this phrase until a few years ago. The first time I heard it, I simply nodded my head. After the meeting, I was informed it meant “everything.” My thought? Wait…since when did soup and nuts become so important? Soup and nuts represent everything? Are we squirrels…wait…squirrels that like soup? No. This is dumb. Don’t say this.
THE ALTERNATIVE: Everything. OR We can do it all.
6) FLESH OUT – Nope. We’re not going to say this one anymore. Okay? It has the word “flesh” in it. That is all.
THE ALTERNATIVE: Could you expound?
7) GIVE ME A BALLPARK – frank. They want a Ballpark frank. No, they want an estimate, but they like baseball. Well, where are all the tennis references? Let’s be aggressive! Let’s “play the net!” No? Fine. Then let’s just speak English.
THE ALTERNATIVE: Estimate. (Come on. No excuse to not use this.)
8) WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD – Ugh. This sentence provides no additional direction or clarification during conversation. It’s a pointless phrase – a filler. We have enough fillers in our food; there’s no reason to add them to our speech, too.
THE ALTERNATIVE: Shhh…don’t say anything.
I’ve been informed that a list of 8 is woefully inadequate. But these are my top 8. How does your list compare?