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10 Business Cliches to Avoid Like the Plague


3. Thrown under the bus. As in (excitedly): “Whoa, did you see Johnson throw Dorfman under the bus in that Product Development meeting?” Have you ever tried to actually throw someone? (Especially someone as large as many executives?) Much less under a moving vehicle? It’s really hard.

4. It’s a win-win situation. A bad deal that should be avoided.

5. “He’s a real crackerjack!” May be used to describe an executive brought in to turn around a failing operation. Actually means he’s ruthless and conscienceless, perhaps psychopathic. Employees, take cover…

6. Ramp up. As in, “We’re ramping up our Customer Service operations.” This is code for “We’re woefully behind, and a key competitor is eating our lunch.”

7. Rightsizing. A logical, inevitable-sounding way of saying staff is about to be slashed and a bloodbath will ensue.

8. Headwinds. Most often used by a CFO or CEO: “We faced strong headwinds in the first quarter.” Generally precedes the announcement of disappointing, possibly disastrous, financial results.

9. Challenges and opportunities. My all-time favorite for its durability and flexibility. It’s hard to read an annual report without colliding with a few of these. “Challenges” generally refers to opportunities gone awry, and “opportunities” refers to challenges like fast-growing businesses where we should be doing well but competitors are inexplicably dominating us.

Someone just pointed out that I promised 10 cliches in the title but listed only 9. Oh, sorry, guess I did. No matter. We business folks have been known to exaggerate a little now and then…

This article first appeared at Forbes.com.