Stop these bad language habits

Want to elicit a serious eye roll from customers and co-workers? Litter your language with these annoying—often jarring—sometimes silly choices:

Turning a noun or adjective into a verb. Examples: “upskill yourself” instead of “learn new skills” or “incent people” instead of “offering people incentives.” More often than not, it’s confusing and distracting. It can also make you seem like you are trying to be slick.

Using jargon or acronyms. When you are sitting around with people who do your exact job, feel free to use jargon and acronyms. However, if you aren’t 100% sure that the person understands you, steer clear of both or at least explain the terms. Your job-specific language sound like gibberish to some people, and others will think you are intentionally keeping them in the dark.

Overusing tired clichés. It’s always worth repeating, phrases such as “at the end of the day,” “every cloud has a silver lining,” and “avoid it like the plague” clutter your message and distract people from your core message. Especially in business communication, it is critical to be succinct, precise and clear.

—Adapted from “Buffooning Yourself: Are You Jargoning and Acronyming Your Audience to Death?,” Paul Glen, CIO,