11 Phrases Your Employees Never Want to Hear Again

Natasia Langfelder |


Eliminate jargon from your vocabulary to improve your relationship with employees.


C-Suite executives are busy and sometimes the easiest way to respond to a direct report or other stakeholder is with a canned response or vague phrase. However, while this is easier, it's not necessarily the best practice. Overused metaphors and canned jargon can send a message to employees that you aren't really listening to what they have to say and are disengaged with the work. With a few tweaks, you can easily remove these overused phrases from your vocabulary and start connecting better with your employees.

"That's impossible"

This phrase shuts down an employee's creativity and isn't productive. Try replacing it with constructive criticism instead. Maybe something like, "I don't see a project like that being workable for us right now, but I like where you are going with that. Is there a way we can work this idea into something more feasible for us at this moment in time?"

"It's on my radar"

If an employee poured her heart into a project, it can sound dismissive to throw this phrase at her as you run out the door. Try giving a timeframe to the employee as to when you are going to address their work.


No one really knows what this word means. Erase it from your vocabulary.

"Breaking down silos"

After years of being a hot phrase, people are finally tired of this analogy. Try a more positive phrase like, "improving communication" or "coming together" and leave the wrecking ball outside the barn.

"Let's touch base"

Be more specific. Your employees need an ear to listen, set a specific time.

"That not my problem"

Actually, as the boss, your employees' problems are your problems. Whether you make time in your schedule to listen to the employees' concerns, or refer them to their manager, make sure that employees know you want to help them problem solve.

"Limited bandwidth"

We all know time is precious and resources are finite. Using tech-speak will alienate people at worst and bore them at best. Try being straightforward and saying, "We just don't have the resources for that right now," instead of using jargon.

"Do more with less"

All companies are striving to do more with less. It's redundant to remind employees of this, instead try going more in depth about where departments can cut back and how they can be more efficient.

"Low hanging fruit"

Employees can see this phrase as dismissive of their efforts. All goals are worthy, even the ones that might be within reach.

"Paradigm shift"

Another phrase that doesn't mean anything. Try using the word "change" instead, to make the conversation more accessible.

"Think outside the box"

We all know creative thinking is crucial to keeping businesses alive and competitive. At this point, your employees will have been told to think outside the box so often, they don't even know where the box is anymore. A pep talk about the project or company goals will get their creative juices flowing more than this expression will.

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Do any of these resonate with you? What qualities do you think a leader needs to have? Sound off in the comments or tweet us @Connex.