So here goes: I personally despise, at the end of the day, when people drop the ball, because, at this moment in time, it is what it is. Just sayin.
In that paragraph above I include what I and countless others find to be among the most annoying sayings shared by the English-speaking world and uttered by all of us at some point, though rarely in one sentence (thankfully). It’s easy to use these phrases because they allow us to bridge our thoughts or label our feelings with familiar phrases. But let’s face it: it does not make us better communicators. It’s okay to utter: “It is what it is” when the waitress brings over a Merlot instead of Malbec or you didn’t go to the gym today because you “personally despise” the treadmill. But it is not acceptable as communicators to fall back on mundane and grammatically inaccurate phrases in a profession where language speaks volumes and can be the difference between scoring an account and losing it, between garnering respect and squandering it, between capturing an audience’s attention or putting them to sleep.
How many times have you heard an executive say “At the end of the day, we are going to….” Or, “I personally feel that this is the way forward.” You can’t “impersonally feel” something unless you’re clinically insane. And, “at the end of the day” really means: I don’t know how to start this sentence but what I want to say is…
Am I being nit-picky? Perhaps, if I weren’t writing this to an audience of communicators. But we are judged not only by our actions but by what we say and how we say it, what we write and the flair with which we write it.
To this list of phrases better left unused, I submit a few more that will get you nowhere fast. Please add yours to this list so at the end of the day (literally, today!) we have more words to ban from the workday:
* From an agency exec to a client: “Of course, we can do all of that!” (sounds fishy, I don’t believe you; be specific on what you can do and what you might not be able to do. )
* From a client to an agency rep: “I need a dashboard” (can you be more specific? Everyone’s asking for a dashboard and there are Mercedes dashboards and Pinto dashboards – which do you want?)
* From an employee to her employer: “Where is my career going here?” (you should know, bring a plan to get there; don’t let your employer tell you who you should be)
* From a boss to his employee: “You need to be more passionate.” (you can’t make people feel passionate)
* From one PR person to another: “We need to own social media.” (Um, the public owns social media. What you really mean is you need to tie your social media efforts to a bottom line, be it financial, social good, reputation. That’s #winning)
* From a CEO to his PR team: “Get us some good press.” And the PR exec’s response: “Consider it done.”
The latter phrase sounds straight out of a movie script (perhaps a documentary). In the real world, we know “get us some good press” is a loaded request and “consider it done” is dripping with confidence and enthusiasm. But more meaningful conversations without niceties and catch-phrases will elevate the PR profession and set more realistic expectations for your organization. Just sayin.
(Please add to the list.)
– Diane Schwartz
On twitter: @dianeschwartz