8 Things We Should Probably Stop Saying at Work in 2015 – Scary Mommy

8 Things We Should Probably Stop Saying at Work in 2015

“Going Forward…”

This one is used a lot, presumably by people not bound by the laws of linear time. “Going forward into next year…” Yeah—that’s how time works. You don’t need to say it. See also:

“In my head, I’m thinking…”

Another thing that doesn’t need saying. Where else were you thinking it? Where else could you think it? Ironically, this statement usually precedes a bad idea, or one the speaker isn’t very sure of, such as “In my head, I’m thinking we don’t need the parachutes. They’re just taking up space, yeah?”

“Excellence”

Many companies are striving for excellence, and boy, are they unafraid to tell you about it. No company in its right mind would tell you it was “striving to achieve a subjective, arbitrary and ill-defined goal,” but that’s essentially what’s being said here.

“Hit it out of the park”

Or, over here in the UK, “Smashed it out of the park,” which frequently gets abbreviated to simply “smashed it,” one of the few instances where the axiom “Brevity is the soul of wit” falls down. Either way, it’s an expression which comes from sports. And that was fine, when it was just in sports, where people would regularly actually hit an actual thing out of an actual park. But when you use it to describe anything else, it sounds incredibly self-aggrandizing, like you’re giving yourself a standing ovation. I’m not against metaphor, but please. Keep it in the park. Preferably unhit.

“Passion”

THE number one word buzzword in many workplaces over the last few years, especially for things that no one in their right mind could get passionate about. “I have a passion for sales.” “I have a passion for expanding markets.” “I have a passion for business strategy.” At what point was it decided that it wasn’t enough to merely do a job, you had to be in love with it too?

“What are you passionate about?” is in danger of becoming a standard issue interview question. And it’s nonsense, because nobody could ever answer it properly or honestly. “Well guys, I’m passionate about the winter sunlight. I’m passionate about painting, slashing my way across the canvas in bright stabs of lurid color. I’m passionate about dolphins.” You get the idea? Passions are private things. Nobody in their right mind wants to hear about what really lights people up, and certainly not in a job interview. Similarly, it would be downright unsettling if you were genuinely passionate about something like sales. “I am passionate about sales. I want to take sales out, to a little Italian place I know in Soho. I want to whisper sweet nothings in sales’ ear…” Eurgh.

The question you’re actually looking for, Job Interviewers, is “What are you interested in?”

“Solutions”

Sometime over the last ten or fifteen years, businesses began to abandon having names which accurately described what they did and move instead into the realm of “solutions.” I can see why they did so—it seems to maximize your usefulness if you’re not just the people who unblock drains, you’re the people who offer “drainage solutions,” implying you can do significantly more than unblock drains—irrigate the Sahara, perhaps, should the need arise. So nowadays, many businesses are solutions, or describe themselves as such. The problem is that once your business has ascended to the pure, trans-human plane of “solutions,” it’s very hard to tell what your business actually does. It’s nebulous and vague. Simplicity is always best. Batman is called “Batman” and not “Gotham Flying Mammal-based Crime Fighting Solutions” for a host of very good reasons.

“Creative”

This is the one that, more than any, I have a problem with. “Creative” is now used to describe pretty much any activity or product, rendering the word utterly meaningless. It’s an absolute necessity, it seems, to describe any new business endeavour as “creative.” I’m not sure, but I think this use of the word “creative” is supposed to act as a bulwark against criticism, a fig leaf to cover the shortcomings of things that might otherwise be best described as “unimaginative,” “uninspired,” “derivative,” and “actually lacking in any creative component whatsoever.”

If creativity is everywhere, creativity has no value. As creativity, in this watered-down, corporate form, becomes more and more ubiquitous, it becomes more uninspired, more uniform, and more and more un-creative. People who are genuinely creative for a living—knowing the sheer amount of pain and time involved—are a lot more reluctant to throw the word “creative” around. Real creativity is playful and fun, yes, but it’s also messy, inefficient, frustrating, and hard work.

Also—a big indicator, this one—beware anything or anywhere that has CREATIVE or CREATIVITY written on it. Usually in a wacky font. Vertically. Real creativity does not need a label to know what it is, nor where it’s permitted to express itself. Similarly, watch out for places where “creative” is a noun: “I’m with creative,” “Let’s run that by creative.” Fencing creativity off in its own little department, you say? Well, now, what could be more creative than that?

“F**k”

That’s right. The old F-word. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who imagines a rosy-tinted past where nobody said this word. People have always said it, ever since the Anglo-Saxons invented it, and before that they probably said something that served the same purpose. And I’m also not one of those people who would like to see it vanish entirely. Hell, I love the word.

It’s just that now everyone seems to say it, all the time. Sorry—”All the f**king time.” It is in danger of becoming just another word that punctuates speech, like “erm” or “like.” Using the F-word all the time is like shouting all the time—when you really need that extra emphasis, there’s no place to go. You’ve peaked too soon. You can blame hip hop or Quentin Tarantino or Hollywood or that modern punk music they have nowadays for making the F-word conversational, but I think it’s mostly down to laziness on our part. It’s become a very, very lazy way of expressing oneself, while also saying “Hey, look! I’m not some square, hung up on issues of profanity. I’m a plain speaker. Just like you.” And so we all become equally lazy in expressing ourselves, via variants of the F-word.

Cut it back. “F**k” is a faithful friend. It’ll be there for you when you really f**king need it.