One of my favorite sketches from SNL’s Wayne’s World was when the guest star (memory eludes me) was a cool kid who was on Wayne’s show to announce what the new, cool word would be for the upcoming school year. That not only struck me as funny, it brought back memories of my own school days when it was very important to use the latest phrase.
The words seemed to evolve out of nowhere. One day,we were showing approval to something or someone by saying it was “Neat.” Then without warning we switched to “Groovy,” and then to “Boss,” “Tough,” “Far-out” and on and on. Nobody really thought about who started it or why we all followed.
Think about it – do you have any idea who was the first person to wear a backwards baseball cap (other than actual baseball catchers – who have a legitimate reason.)
Not Just High School
It’s one thing in high school but the same phenomenon exists in sales and marketing.
People tend to pick up phrases and words that “everyone” is saying. I believe that when we do this, it’s for the same reason we did it in high school – to demonstrate that we are up on the latest “thing” – whatever that might be.
I acknowledge that I’ve done it myself many times over the years but when I stop and think about it, I have to ask whether it makes me seem informed and up to date or if it makes me look like I’m just a follower.
Leader or Lemming
In our competitive business world – the winners are the leaders. So whether we’re composing a blog post, preparing a presentation or delivering a sales proposal, the less we rely on me-too language the more original we appear.
There are ton of lists published each year about the most overused words and phrases from the previous year. A lot of these tend oto focus on social conversation as opposed to business but there’s a lot of it in the business world as well.
Here a just a few of the words and phrases that have come and gone – or have come and stayed. They’re not all from 2011 – some of them have been around for years. Please add to the list with your own favorites by commenting.
- Do The Math
- Cutting Edge
- Leading Edge
- Personal Bandwidth
- Push The Envelope
- Ahead of the Curve
- Outside The Box
- Let’s Do This
- Let’s Roll
- What’s Up With That?
- Teachable Moment