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How to Get Promoted But Be Totally Useless

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As much as we love business improvement at AccelaWork, we probably despise business buzzwords more than anything. A hilarious editorial points out the serious problem with business clichés.

The piece appears on Forbes, and warns about the dangers of using these phrases:

We all laugh at how the managers in Dilbert or on the The Office constantly spew cliches that don’t seem to mean anything. But those parodies shed light on a basic truth: some tired management cliches will impress enough people that they’ll probably help you get promoted to middle management.

Here are some of the best, along with “translations” from writer Eric Jackson:

Let’s circle back to that/Let’s put that in the parking lot/let’s touch base on that later/let’s take this off-line = Shut up and let’s go back to what I was talking about

We think outside the box here/color outside the lines = We wouldn’t know about how to do something innovative if it came up to us and bit us in the behind

I/we/you don’t have the bandwidth = Since we cut 60% of our headcount, we’re all doing the job of 3 people, so we’re all burned out

This is where the rubber meets the road = Don’t screw up

Let’s take the 30,000 foot view… = I like to think I see the big picture

I want you to run with this = I just threw you into the deep end of the pool and you’re on your own to figure it out

Get Promoted, but Be Totally Useless

© Flickr user bettyx1138

We’ve actually covered ridiculous business jargon before on The Methodology Blog. And while it’s a lot of fun to read these kinds of lists, the use of stock phrases illustrate a more serious issue: we tend to communicate by parroting, rather than by thinking.

If you catch yourself “circling back” to “best practices” when it comes time to “drill down” and “make the donuts,” it might be time to “take a step back.”

Instead, try figuring out what you really want to say. And if you don’t know, consider just being honest. It’s okay if you don’t know. And it’s likely that people will appreciate you more if you speak with your own voice rather than one that you’ve heard countless times before.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


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Robby Slaughter
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