In recent years, the prevalence of buzzwords used in the workplace seems to have increased. As a leader, it’s possible you have heard nondescriptive words and phrases like “think outside the box,” “synergy,” or “heavy lifting” around your office or coming from your mouth. While these aren’t necessarily incorrect, they can create confusion for employees when you’re trying to have a conversation with them about expectations.

The following words and phrases are in themselves harmless, but when presented to your team, they can be up for interpretation, and you should use them sparingly. When you’re in a casual setting, these phrases can be perfectly fine to say, but in a professional environment, being clear and concise with your language will enable your employees to get the message and ask questions immediately.


1. “Bandwidth”

Unless you’re talking about how much information your business’ internet connection can handle, this buzzword should be used rarely or not at all. This buzzword seems to have grown in popularity because of the growth of the internet, but it isn’t very descriptive when used in most sentences. It refers to how much manpower or resources are needed to complete a specific task or project, but used in business it is confusing and doesn’t quantify the amount of work that you’re asking to be done.


2. “Wheelhouse”

Some people are excellent at handling difficult calls and speaking to clients and work well in customer service; others may be an artist at heart and take to the design department. The set skills of customer service and art would be in those employees’ wheelhouses. When used in a business setting, the term “wheelhouse” fails to recognize any other traits the employees may have beyond their most predominant one.


3. “It’s always been done this way…”

This particular phrase is inherently closed minded and the leader saying it is unreceptive to change. Industries are constantly changing to adapt to our changing world, and what worked 20 years ago will probably not work today. Effective leaders should recognize that the status quo is not necessarily the best course of action and be open to new processes and techniques. You should always be

4. “I did that”

When something goes well, although you probably contributed a great deal, you should avoid taking all the credit. Including the rest of your team in projects shows that you care about their recognition and are willing to include them in your successes. Down the road, it could encourage your team members to take on a challenge for the good of the team because they know they’ll be recognized for it.

5. “Low-hanging fruit”

When discussing low-hanging fruit with your employees, you’re probably talking about tasks that can be quickly finished or projects that take minimal effort. Instead of using this phrase to generalize the tasks that they need to complete before starting on more time-intensive ones, use clear language so there’s no uncertainty of what to do next.


As a leader of your organization, having excellent communication skills is truly the key to success. You must be able to speak with confidence and clarity, not only for your employees but also so your customers easily understand your product or services. Take a look at any cursory words and phrases you use with your employees and try replacing them with succinct, descriptive language will allow your messages to be received and understood.