Seven Annoying Phrases in Modern Business Use That Must Be Stopped… Now!

October 15, 2021

Nigel Girling

Head of Professional Qualifications
Man with hand held out in stop motion

Thinking outside the box

While I appreciate the sentiment and applaud the idea of creative thinking…why were you ever even in a box? Who made this box and why did they put you in it? Break free and run naked in the sunlight. Or maybe just get a coffee. Bring me one while you’re there.

Put it on the back burner

Er… what? On most modern cookers the back burner is pretty damned hot. Personally I’ve got an induction hob so I don’t have any burners at all, front or back. If you mean ‘let’s leave that one until tomorrow’ then just say so. There’s a reason that the words ‘idiom’ and ‘idiot’ are so similar.

Reach out…

I’m sorry, but you can’t use that phrase unless you’re Levi Stubbs and singing ‘I’ll be there’. By the way, he’s dead, so no-one is allowed to say it anymore. Just speak to them instead. The same applies to…

Catch Up…

Why were you running after them in the first place? Wouldn’t ‘meet’ suffice? It is what you’re going to do, after all.

Eco-System

Unless this is applied to an actual eco-system, such as the rainforests, just stop it. Immediately. I know you think it makes you sound clever and expert, but it doesn’t. You’re just an idiot following a trend created by other idiots.

Giving it 110 per cent

Did you not do maths at school? That is both a mathematical and physical impossibility. Even ‘giving it 100%’ is practically impossible, because all your other necessary physiological activities would cease and you would die. On second thoughts, please try it.

Touch base

A baseball reference? In the UK? American culture has crept insidiously into so many areas of our society so that we now have Proms, Trick or Treat, Cups of Coffee that cost £4.50 and contain 1,000 calories, 12” bread rolls full of meatballs and teenagers who’ve never been outside London saying ‘gotten’ or ‘can I get a sandwich’. I’ve tried to accept all that as evolution. But I draw the line at baseball. A sport where the USA had a world series in the 1950s despite the fact that no other major countries played the game. (It’s just Rounders with spitting isn’t it?). Can’t we create an equivalent that comes from cricket? Touch bails? Hmmm, maybe not.

Other suggestions welcome!


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+44 (0) 1276 686644