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Avoid These 10 Most Hated Business Phrases On Your LinkedIn Profile



A new survey of over 3,000 workers has identified the most hated phrases in the professional world – a toxic collection of business buzzwords designed to derail even the most promising career. Researched by, this list of loathed jargon will help you to avoid falling into a trap of clichés on your LinkedIn profile. After all, if you are using catch phrases and platitudes to explain your background, or share your story on LinkedIn, you are potentially creating eye rolls instead of opportunities. These 10 buzzwords are the ones that employees dislike their managers using – and everyone finds exhausting.

At the end of the day, phrases like “at the end of the day” are filler words – empty phrases that need to retire, STAT, because they don’t communicate any value. Buzzwords, jargon and TLAs will rob you of real leadership communication.

Wondering what “TLAs” are? Here you go: “three letter acronyms”.

Trying to talk like an “insider” can often leave your audience (both online and in-person) wondering what you are really trying to say – and why you are resorting to letters and tired catch phrases in order to say it. That’s no way to write your résumé, or carry on a conversation, if you want to be heard, listened to and understood.

Do you want to be cryptic, on your LinkedIn profile, or interview like a tech bro for your next role? Choose your answer – and your words – carefully.

Here are the 10 most detested corporate buzzwords in business. Interviewing tip: don’t go here.

  1. Act Your Wage – a reminder to stick to tasks designed for your pay grade, this snappy catchphrase is designed to keep you inside the box, with your mouth shut, and your head down. Has anyone ever said this to you, and you felt great about it? Skip the acting advice, and focus on what matters most.
  2. Balls in the Air – a reference to juggling, as a metaphor for multitasking, this zippy piece of repartée lends itself to multiple meanings. This phrase underplays the real value you bring to a variety of tasks. Reframe in favor of something that literally (not metaphorically) points at your skills and abilities, with greater clarity.
  3. Push the envelope – meaning you are willing to do more and exceed boundaries, this snippet of jargon begs the question, what’s inside the envelope? If it’s not clear what the “envelope” is, the fact that you pushed it is a big fat, “So what?” Clear communication isn’t just about your content. Context is what matters!
  4. Effective accelerationism – say that 10 times fast. Perhaps this phrase points at speed to market? Missing the mark, the overall impact just sounds pretentious. Because wordism is not a thing. See what I did there?
  5. Change Agent – driving innovation is something that always matters. However, real and lasting change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Does this mean someone single-handedly transformed a culture, team or organization? Seems like you left out a detail, Gunga Din – namely, the other people that helped you on your Agent quest. Consider using the word catalyst instead, and try giving credit where credit is due. Because no agent survives in a vacuum.
  6. Deliverables – my writing coach always told me, “Show, don’t tell.” Generic and general terms – like this one – rob you of the chance to share size, scope and other details. Do you want to write and speak in broad generalities, leaving out details and hoping that someone will guess what you mean, and somehow infer what you have to offer? If you are a leader, be explicit. Otherwise, your “deliverables” don’t deliver.
  7. Bleeding Edge – where is this edge, exactly? Metaphors about edges can be exhausting. Why? Because this cryptic phrase feels like hype. Not every business or project needs to be amped up to infinity and beyond.
  8. Mission Critical – is it? Better to say what the mission is, and be plain spoken about what you did. When managers use this phrase, team members hear a kind of “do-or-die” obligation inside of it. Do threats and high pressure make anyone perform better?
  9. Idea Harvesting – right up there with “ideating”, this phrase is another word for brainstorming. According to the survey, this phrase can make employees feel that ideas are undervalued (being harvested like grain, perhaps? You know that grain is a commodity. Good ideas, not so much). But what really matters from your idea sesh is the outcome. What you discover is more important than the process – the “harvest” – so why not focus on what matters most?
  10. Spidey Sense – We know that the ability to sense danger is something that Spider Man possesses. And we all know that Spider Man isn’t real. Talking about real issues and fears is an important aspect of transparency and vulnerability. Expressing real human emotion through a fictional character with powers bestowed from a radioactive spider (also not a real thing) is not effective communication.

Which of these words and phrases show up for you, in your daily conversations? If you’re using any of these buzzwords on your LinkedIn profile, it’s time for a refresh. “By opting for clear and meaningful jargon, leaders can foster a more inclusive, engaging and productive environment,” according to Raymond Lee from Don’t let catch phrases and clichés speak for you – choose the words that will help you most, on your LinkedIn profile. And according to research, those words aren’t on this list.

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