5 words and phrases to ban from meetings

There are phrases and words you’ll hear over and over again in meetings, with many of them getting you nowhere productive. Ban these 5 and hopefully things will change.

Offices have their own lingo – and while phrases like ‘blue sky thinking’ are annoying, they can be shrugged off.

Silhouettes of People in a Meeting with Colourful Speech Bubbles Above Their Heads

But certain words and phrases can create a negative atmosphere in meetings. If you ban them, you could get people thinking and acting in a more positive way.

We’re not suggesting that you totally ban it, but you should definitely keep tabs on it and make sure it’s only used when absolutely necessary.

By stopping people from using it, you make them think of an alternative, which would maybe provide them with the solution they’re looking for. It also makes the word much more powerful when actually used.

We’re going to break our first rule, but here should be no ‘buts’. Again, you need this word in everyday language (see previous sentence and next word), but when it’s used as a way to provide an excuse for not having done something it should be banned.

When you find people using ‘but’ before an excuse, stop them and ask them to write down 3 ways to solve their problem – they might not be great ideas but it gets the person thinking more positively.

‘At the end of the day’
This is still one of the most overused office clichés and on those grounds alone should be banned. But it’s the fact that it’s usually followed up by some ‘fact’ acting as an excuse for not doing something.

For example, ‘At the end of the day, the stock market in China is down so the poor results aren’t my problem’ or ‘At the end of the day, there’s not much we can do about that.’ Tell them at the end of the day, you want a solution.

‘Anything else?’
Often muttered towards the end of a meeting as a way to pay lip service to other people’s opinions but really in the hope everyone will shake their heads.

Man with Wide eyes Covering his Mouth with Both Hands

If you’re running the meeting you should know if there’s anything else. Or, if people do have opinion they should pipe up. If you have to encourage people to come forward to speak, it’s probably not worth your time to listen.

Create an environment where people feel relaxed enough to speak their mind and have no one talk over them and you’ll never have to use the phrase again.

‘I’m not sure’
It’s OK to admit you don’t know – say so. Saying ‘I’m not sure’ is just a way to give you a bit of wiggle room.

In business there are few certainties. Try and instil some certainty into your employees. ‘I’m not sure’ speaks of a lack of confidence. If they’re not sure, they should find out.


Posted by Sara Cano


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