Meaningless PhRases and words to delete

"At the end of the day" works well in a musical, but not so much at work

“At the end of the day” works well in a musical, but not so much at work (from Les Miserables)

“When it comes to the various facets of PR and communications, describe what you’re going to do in clear, simple and effective terms and leave the buzzwords at home,” Matthew Schwartz of PR News recently posted. Schwartz listed “5 Words and Phrases to Delete From Your PR Vocabulary,” and although they’re applicable far beyond just PR professionals’ use, I enjoyed his list and can add a few of my own.

Schwartz wrote that saying “to be honest with you” and “frankly” is insincere and “people being spoken (to) are often made to feel like they may not understand what’s being said.”  On his list was “moving forward” (“Who has ever been in the business of moving backward?”) and “value proposition” (“popular in boardrooms…but the term doesn’t mean anything”).  Schwartz said popular corporate word “synergy” is very ’90s and we should lose it from our vocabulary already.

I knew a PR guy who began every third sentence with “The fact of the matter is…”  Another I know ends almost every sentence with, “OK?”, seeking validation for what he just said.  And I’ve had one than more boss or colleague who would constantly begin with “At the end of the day…” which is another way of saying “The bottom line is…” (I’m guilty of this one).  Both overused and annoying, indeed.

And then there’s the 14-to-20 somethings–more often female–who pepper every sentence with “like.”  I’m not sure why this is, how it started or why it eventually seems to go away, but it’s there and it’s annoying to the adult ear.  And that’s a bit of a problem when it’s time for the job interview.  I’ve actually coached students to become aware of their use of “like” because it tends to make them sound less intelligent, which they are not.

How we express our thoughts verbally and in writing create impressions on our profession and ourselves.  PR catch phrases such as ‘integrated marketing,” “value added,” “out of the box,” and “elevator speech” aren’t aging well and should probably be eliminated.   Which words and phrases would you like to see deleted?  Your, like, thoughts?

76 thoughts on “Meaningless PhRases and words to delete

  1. nextwavecreator

    Reblogged this on PRelation and commented:
    Choice of word is important. Clearly many people working in Public Relations often use certain words for convincing their points. I believe “out of the box” should be deleted because it is not a catch phrase anymore. We always need to think “out of the box” all the time. We can use the words “creative” or “inspiring” instead of that phrase.

    Reply
  2. Jeremy Epstein

    I have always been conscious of using “filler words.” I do try my best to avoid those words. Specifically the word “like.” It is definitely one of the most overused words. I agree with most of the other comments that using these filler words make you sound less intelligent than you are. Finally, if you continue to use “filler words” so often they almost lose all meaning

    Reply
  3. Richard I

    Removing unnecessary words in my speaking and writing has become more evident as I got older. When I was younger I used those words basically in every sentence. However, you learn that they are unnecessary and all they do is take up space, make you look unprepared and can cause someone to form a negative opinion on you. With that being said, the word I use the most is “really.” I hardly use it in my writing but speaking with others, I tend to say it quite often. I respond back to statements with “really” or if I am excited about something I say “really.” I think it makes people assume I don’t believe what they are saying or that I am easily confused in a simple conversation but it is something that I have become aware of and will overcome.

    Reply
  4. Dilpreet Kainth

    When I read this post, I couldn’t help but laugh because everything that was said is true! The way we speak and what we say shows how we are as a person. It shows how we can be in a professional or even non-professional environment. However, many of us also do not realize how we speak sometimes. We do not know what we are saying that may sound uncharacteristic and unintelligent. The word “like” is a word I always try to be conscious of when I am speaking. We all have negative associations with this word and I personally hate hearing it. I try to avoid that word as much as I possibly can. Even though, I can’t think of words or phrases I would never want to hear….I believe it’s the way people say these “words” and “phrases” and not what is actually being spoken. If you come off as rude or arrogant, that is directly perceived rather than the words necessarily being spoken. But this also does not have to be the case for most situations.

    Reply
  5. stacy05

    That’s a very interesting post, I actually also recently taught about it. When I realized how especially the word “like” is so often pronounced. It became so inquiring to me, that I found myself counting them when people talk. Some have it in every sentence, so it becomes very distracting and even annoying at times. I believe this generation overuses this word.

    Reply
  6. Sharlys Leszczuk

    I am definitely guilty of using the word “like.” Before presentations, or really whenever it comes to mind I like to make a mental note to leave it out. But then, when it slips itself in there it throws me off because I’m thinking about it too much. It is definitely something that has been passed from person to person and spread virally across the country, and maybe even the world. I think the best way for me to become aware of it would be to record a presentation or conversation that I have and count how many times I said like. I would then analyze whether it was because I was uncomfortable or I forgot what I was going to say, or if it really just is a bad habit. Since I am going into the field of PR, I know that it is important for me to present myself in the best way possible in writing and verbally. I do not want the way I speak to have an impact on the way my audience perceives me.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Blog Comments | Fun in the Sun

  8. taylorcebutler

    I am guilty of filler words, such as like. I have lightened up on it as I have matured, but it slips every now and again. Two Phrases that tend annoy me are “You know what I mean?” To me, it is almost like a previous commentator’s post of “OK?” It comes off to me as trying to have a statement validated. The second one is one that annoyed my buddy and once I started hearing it, began to annoy me…”Is it?” or “Is it now?” I would say something along the lines of: “That movie is really good.” They would reply, “Is it?” Hard to have a good conversation with responses like that.

    Reply
  9. Robert Ryan

    When I first started writing papers in middle school one of my favorite things to begin a sentence with was “I believe….” For example “I believe grapes are the best fruit.” I found later that I believe is unnecessary. If you’re going to make an opinion statement you already believe in it so the “I believe” is redundant. Have confidence and allow your explanation to show that you believe in it. Little things like that affect the way you’re perceived while speaking in public, especially the word “like”. People are uncomfortable with dead spaces while speaking. But words like “um” or “like” make me forget to listen to what your talking about and count how many likes you use in a statement.

    Reply
    1. janecapants

      I am 100% guilty of using the word “like” and trying to beef up my essays with unnecessary phrases. Using these pointless phrases to sound smarter in our writing makes it more difficult for the reader to get the message you are trying to send. As in the spoken word, using “like” only comes into my vocabulary when I am talking to my family or friends. If I am talking to someone professional or giving a presentation I have to self consciously keep reminding myself not to say “like” or even the word “um”.

      Reply
  10. Richard Rocha

    Avoiding these phrases and buzz words not only make one sound more mature, but they force a person to sound more original, and put thought into what they are writing or saying. Getting colorful and creative with diction (although not too radical) sets a message apart from others, making it more prevalent to the intended audience. These messages are the kind that stick with people.

    Reply
  11. Nicole Lombardo

    I feel the phrase that needs to be deleted from everyone’s vocabulary is like. We have evolved into society where some people think that if like isn’t in the sentence than it sounds incorrect. I unfortunately am a culprit of that very mistake. One too many times I have typed a a text or even an essay and when I proofread I read allowed and will be saying like in an incorrect manner. People have become too comfortable using the word and if we continue in this evolution we might end up with “like” being proper English.

    Reply
  12. Reina Morrison

    I agree that most females tend to use the word “like” way to much and I know for a fact that I am one of them. I honestly can say I never realized how unprofessional saying that word sounds until now. Although I agree that saying “like” to much sounds bad, some of the rest of the terms don’t strike me as a problem. Maybe some of the phrases are cliche, but I wouldn’t say that they sound unprofessional.

    Reply
  13. Laura Schioppi

    This blog is very true for everyone in this generation. However, some people do talk differently in different settings. When I am with my family I can talk freely and say whatever I want. When I am with my friends I can joke around, but always be careful of what I say. And when I am in a serious setting (class, interview, job) I have to be respectful and very careful of what I say. It depends on who you are and who surrounds you for the type of language you use in that specific setting. I know during an interview I get very nervous and say “um” or “like” repeatedly. I believe that we cannot find a certain word in our vocabulary so we substitute it for “like” or “um”. I know that I must change this bad habit because it tends to “dumb us down”. I agree with what you are saying Professor and we should be more mindful on how we say certain things.

    Reply
  14. rachaeldurant

    I have discussed this topic on many other occasions. While the term “like” is often over used, I find that there are other phrases that the 14-20 year old generation tends to overuse. It was brought to my attention that my generation likes to use the word “awkward”. I had never considered this to be a word I used so frequently until it was brought to my attention. The overuse of any phrase seems to make the person speaking seem less intelligent. This is most likely because it makes the individual’s vocabulary seem limited. As far as I can see, the way to solve this problem is to make the person aware that they are overusing a certain phrase. For PR, this may mean that working in teams would be beneficial as something could overlook your work. Similarly, it would be helpful to practice and have someone keep track of your most used words and phrases. Personally, I try to be aware of my own speech patterns.

    Reply
  15. Emily Green

    I agree completely that the use of the word “like” makes us seem less intelligent than we really are, and it is in our best interest to make ourselves aware and diminish the use of the word. I too will use this word, and after taking a speech communications class my freshman year, I have learned to be more aware of myself using the word “like” and I now use it less. As for other words/phrases that should be eliminated, I do not like “You know?” I think it makes the impression that the audience is dumb and the speaker is so much smarter, because not only did they get their point across, but they need to ask to make sure the audience understood them. It is unnecessary to put that phrase at the end of anything, because yes, the audience does know what you are saying.

    Reply
  16. Olga

    The phenomenon of junk words usage is nothing else but “luxury”, that young people can afford. Why luxury? Because the minute young people graduate and start to get involved into social life beyond the college walls, start working in the mixed age environment, the issue of excessive usage of filler words varnishes by itself. I suppose, it can be explained by the Darwin’s theory about “natural selection”. Let’s say, a young, freshly graduated specialist found a job. Now he/she wants to be taken seriously by his colleagues, not to mention the boss. And a person has no choice but to adjust to the environment he wants to succeed in. There is no more “luxury” of saying too many “like” or something of that kind that makes him/her sound less smart.

    I find pretty interesting another linguistic phenomenon though, which I discovered after living several years in this country. I found out that people, who can speak more than one language, in the highly emotional moments or extreme situations, will express their emotions, which is in most cases a curse, in a language of the country they are in at the moment.
    My point is that no matter how good you know foreign language, it still takes efforts to speak it, so it’s harder to use, comparing to native language. Thus it seems natural, that during specific moments when we don’t really control our speech, to express yourself in a native language, but that’s not what happens. In reality, let’s say, I am (a bilingual person) driving on LI Expressway to work in the morning and somebody cuts me off. My reaction will be something like “What the heck?!” and definitely said in English. In exactly the same situation but in Russia, where I came from, I will say whatever I think about that person in Russian, and only in Russian.
    There is a reason, why swear words are tabooed. They hit our ears, because they are extremely powerful. Their potency is akin to magic power. But it’s is only effective when there is somebody around to understand you. The minute nobody knows the meaning of a curse word, it immediately loses its power. What amazes me is how quickly the brain makes immediate choice of a more powerful tool of expressing emotions and why I will necessarily use the language of the country I am in, even if nobody can hear me (I usually drive with AC on and the windows are closed).

    Reply
    1. Michael Yehuda

      Well, throughout growing up on Long Island, people have used the words “frankly” and “like” way to often. I personally think that words such as like and frankly help us put more emphasis on what we are trying to say. I look at it as “support words” for your statement and what you are trying to say. However, I’ve heard many times that using over used terms such as those two in public speaking is not good. Using overused words are usually not good when you are giving a public speech. So my suggestion would be is to try to get into the habit of not using those two words specifically in your sentence. When you get into a conversation with someone, make a cautious effort on the words that you use and slowly slowly the use of over used terms will go away.

      Reply
  17. Molly Eyassu

    Like most people who have commented on this the over use of the word like is a big one for me. As a girl in her early twenties most of the people around me (including my friends) use the world “like” about a billion when in conversation. While I was in undergrad, there was a girl (let’s call her Jane) who was in the majority of my classes. Jane was smart but whenever she had to do a presentation, or even just answer a question every other word was “like”. It was the most annoying thing on the planet, and quite frankly i feel like her way of speaking made her sound less intelligent than she really was.

    Reply
  18. Max N.

    It is definitely wise that we watch the way we speak. Our language is the most frequent and direct way we express ourselves to those around us. No one wants to sound like an idiot. But what makes some words sound dumb and others not? Words fall in and out of favor as you pointed out. 90s corporate nomenclature has a negative stigma these days. The words sound cold and insincere because of their origin in the cold, insincere 90s corporate world. Similarly, internet abbreviations and overuse of ‘like’ have a negative image because of its origin in youth internet subculture. Today it would be best to avoid this language if we want to retain any sort of dignity or legitimacy in conversation, but seeing how pervasive this language is it is interesting to imagine how it will be seen in the years to come. Could it possibly be accepted as a separate, but useful presentation of language? After all, how different is any textspeak from the heavily abbreviated inscription above the Pantheon? “M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIUM·FECIT”

    Reply
  19. Nancy Haas

    As a college student, I agree that my generation has become too comfortable with using shortcuts and abbreviations in their writing. The way one writes over text message and on social media sites differs greatly from how they write for assignments, on the job, or speak professionally. Unfortunately, the younger generation has become lazy and many are not willing to correct their grammar or improve their vocabulary. This is a shame because in a time where the job market is so competitive, it is crucial that we separate ourselves from the “common man” and go above and beyond to impress potential employers. Hopefully, students and aspiring professionals realize this and start trying to change their bad habits and begin improving how they express themselves verbally and through writing.

    Reply
  20. acasole

    These “buzz words” that are mentioned in the article are really something that I can relate to. “Like” is a word that I use very frequently, along with the filler “um.” I find myself using these words, not because I am unintelligent, but because they are speech fillers that I use to fill blank areas in my conversations as I process my thoughts. This is a terrible habit that a lot of people in my generation have that is extremely difficult to break. I took a public speaking class at Hofstra last semester that helped all of the students work on removing these “buzz words” from their speeches and presentations. The professor instructed all of us while we were presenting that if we accidentally slipped one of these words into our speech we would have to repeat the word over 3 times in a row, so instead of just saying “like,” we would have to say “like like like.” Although it sounds silly, this was an extremely powerful way to help all realize how often we use these fillers and also began to train us to stop using them. To this day, I still use these phrases and many other “buzz words,” but that class was a great start to remove them from my everyday vocabulary.

    Reply
  21. jessicaxxrebello

    Unfortunately, I am one of the 14-20 somethings that tend to use the word “like” from time to time. I’m really not sure how it started but it is a bad habit of mine, along with the word “um” when I can’t seem to choose the right words to say next… At times I use the word “honestly” before I start a sentence and I “honestly” have no idea why I do this either. I think the reason these sneaky words tend to come out when I speak is because of the people I hang out with. When I’m with my friends the words like, um, and honestly get tossed around very often. However, when I am speaking in front of the class or to a professor, I try my hardest not to use this word because I can see how it comes off as inappropriate.

    Reply
  22. juliaryan215

    I must admit that while I am not guilty of the usual female ‘like’ addiction, I have the tendency of using cliche phrases such as: “to be completely honest” and “at the end of the day.” I am an extremely wordy writer and I like to use these phrases to emphasize important points I am trying to make. I never really thought about how cliche they actually sound. I know that I will have to shake this habit, as PR/journalism writing is way more concise than my current writing style.

    Reply
  23. Brittany Witter

    Very interesting post to consider! I think in there a lot of words and phases in the english language that have been over used and taken out of context. “Like” is a huge one for me! I hate when people say “like” every other word while they are speaking. It makes me not want to listen to anything else they have to say. My little cousin is 14 and does this all the time, but she is 14! It annoying when she does it, but it is mind blowing when an adult does it as well.

    Reply
  24. twade1031

    As are most teenagers, I am guilty of using the word “like” as a filler or placeholder in my speech. My father has been telling me since I was eleven years old, that the word “like” made me sound significantly less intelligent than I really was. My argument was always this: How could I be singled out as unintelligent, when EVERYONE DOES IT. For a while, I thought that since the people I knew used “like” every other word, that everyone did it. I thought it was a trend that “everyone” was following. So how could I sound less intelligent if I was saying the same thing as everyone else? Then he challenged me not to say it for a while. After I completed this challenge, I realized that if I slowed down and payed attention to my speech, I could avoid saying the word “like” unnecessarily. I soon noticed that adults would compliment me on the fact that I didn’t use it in my speech. The less I do it, the more it bothers me that other people do it. I feel as though people should try to eliminate the word’s unnecessary use as best they can, even though it is difficult.

    Reply
  25. Nick Stiles

    I agree that language is important however I don’t think a lot of importance should be placed on eliminating phrases that some consider outdated or overused. I think the content of what you are trying to convey is more important than worrying about using outdated phrases. With that said I do agree it is important to sound intelligent and learn to speak without using words such as “like” or “um” while you are speaking. Using words such as these every few sentences just make you sound unintelligent and people are not going to trust that you know what you are talking about.

    Reply
  26. Hector Bonilla

    Oh yeah, I’m a repeat offender when it comes to overusing words and phrases. I’ve found that with myself, generally, the abuse is circumstantial and tied to finding the perfect buzzword for a particular conversation. When speaking with someone on behalf of a client, I feel there is this pressure to woo them with a catchy phrase that will get their attention. Often they’ll often become more guarded as a result, presumably thinking I’m either trying to cover something up or just plain stupid. It still amazes me, though, the number of communications professionals that are blatantly guilty of doing this. To me, the greatest part of PR has always been being able to play with a message – to find a way to make it more concise, factual, appealing, and simply better. Every one of the words and phrases has a synonymous word or phrase that could easily be substituted (“let me put it bluntly,” “on to the next subject,” etc.) and still keep the conversation fluid.

    P.S. Am I still the only person in America that doesn’t know what synergy is exactly?

    Reply
  27. kerry stewart

    I have the worst habit of using these unnecessary phrases. As an English Major, I know I should not use them. I’m TRAINED to avoid them in their entirety although it doesn’t stop me from peppering them in my speech in every day life, especially texting. I place “like” in every statement I can possibly fit it. I view it as more of a symbol of my personality instead of not knowing how to articulate properly. I’m very cautious about where I place the word like, especially when speaking to certain people. It’s almost to add a sarcastic tone into a statement although other people use it as a filler. I know proper forms of speech, I’ve been learning since I was in the first grade. I take pride on my grammar and spelling abilities and my knowledge of synonyms for overly used words. Reading this has definitely brought my attention to just how silly it sounds though and I realize that as I get older, “like” and other useless phrases should probably start to be avoided.

    Reply
  28. Max Eisenberg

    I’ve never had all that much of an issue with certain buzzwords like “frankly” or “at the end of the day” because if it’s not overused, I find it mixes things up and keeps the conversation flowing smoothly. If someone was overusing it when speaking to me, I’m sure I would notice it and it would bother me but in moderation, I don’t think it’s a big deal and I don’t make judgements upon the person if they do. The one word that I think should be used less is “like”. I have spoken to people who use it almost every other word and that was all I could focus on when they spoke and it made them come off as unintelligent but if used moderately that doesn’t even bother me.

    Reply
  29. Jordan Richmond

    Interestingly enough, as a consumer, I enjoy when companies say “to be honest” and “frankly” as it makes me feel like I’m in on some sort of secret. I feel like they’re being real with me, as opposed to insincere. One question I have regarding this post is whether or not you mean in real-life (human-to-human contact) or in written expression (email, press release, etc.). I don’t mind so much when (as long as it’s not supposed to be some sort of interview or something) someone throws in a “like” in the midst of their sentence, but it can easily become annoying to read if it’s consistently throughout a reading. I guess I’m just more tolerable of verbal slip-ups when the person is directly in front of me and can’t go back and edit what they’ve said.

    Reply
  30. adrianazappolo

    I think that the word “like” is overused so much because it is the perfect space filler. If people pause while they are speaking, or need to take a few seconds to gather their thoughts, they often throw the word “like” into the middle of a sentence without even realizing it. The same goes for the word “um”. I believe this becomes such a bad habit because people overuse space fillers just to avoid awkward pauses or silences. Also, I have a friend that constantly overuses the phrase “to be honest.” I find that the more she says it, the more I start to believe that she isn’t being honest with me at all. How we are perceived in the PR world, and in life in general has a lot to do with our word choices. It is important to be aware of our word choices in order to create a positive image of ourselves.

    Reply
  31. koenigsbergpr

    One more thing regarding the misuse of ‘like.” I am getting older and the medical people are younger. I really do wish that younger folks work on eliminating “like” from their speech. The last thing I want to hear from some physician when I’m 80 is, ‘Like you have cancer.”

    Reply
  32. koenigsbergpr

    Actually. I call a business and ask for Mr. So and So. The young lady or fellow answers, “Actually, he’s not in right now.” As opposed to virtually? I hear it a lot. It’s unnecessary. “He’s not in right now” will suffice.

    Reply
  33. Laurel Smith

    Two semesters ago I took my second writing and composition course during which I learned a very important lesson. My professor taught us that overused, often cliched sentences tend to lose all meaning within the listener and/or reader. Instead, if a person wishes to instill a message that will last forever, he or she must come up with his or her own creative pun. The company cannot “think outside the box” but rather should “extend beyond the realms of average intelligence.” (Not a very creative alternative, but one that will hopefully relay my point.) This means that deliverance is key. It is not the message that we are trying to give out to the audience, but rather how it is presented.
    In addition to words I’d like to see deleted? “Actually” and “literally,” (two phrases that I am ironically VERY guilty of overusing.)

    Reply
  34. Francesca Bove

    I completely agree and think that it is a very good idea to learn to take certain words out of our everyday vocabulary. I have been told many times that I use the word like too often and its something that bothers me very much. I have been working to stop myself from saying it for a while now and I think ive been getting better. I also find myself using other filler words as well and try to stop myself from using those too. The way we speak is very important in how we portray ourselves and I think constantly working to better our speech is a good thing to do because the more well spoken we are can help us in our writing too.

    Reply
  35. Will Martinez

    I think a big “filler” word that I use way too often is honestly. The problem with it, I think, isn’t the word itself but how often I use it. By constantly saying, “honestly” or “to be honest with you” it makes it seem if I don’t say it, I’m not telling the truth. Just how you mentioned with “like”, most of the time I don’t even notice that I’m overusing the word. Now that I recognize my overuse, I am working towards tightening up my sentences, honestly, I am.

    Reply
  36. Kelly Cormier

    I am a constant user of the word, “like”. Often when speaking and gathering my thoughts I feel the need to fill pauses with this word. However, it does make me sound much less intelligent, especially in a professional situation. Another space filler I find myself using is a word not even in the English dictionary, “um”. The way we present ourselves is extremely important, especially in the field of PR, and using fillers such as these can unfortunately paint an image of a much less intellectual, collected version of ourselves to potential employers and other professionals. Another phrase I tend to use as a place filler is “I mean”. I begin a great deal of sentences with this and find it to be a completely unnecessary part of speech.

    Reply
  37. Danie Zolezzi

    Being a part of the “14-to-20 somethings” of women (this was a great line, by the way) demographic and overusing the word like is something I’m not proud of. However, I don’t know how to stop. It’s not even a conscientious decision; it’s a bad habit. This post made me laugh because of how true it is. For whatever reason, many of us use particular phrases but to an extreme. Another bad habit of many people, myself included, is saying “umm” in between every other word. Why do we do this? Who knows.

    Reply
  38. daniel1nelson

    Getting rid of certain words and phrases in our vocabulary is a great idea. In today’s society, with our short-attention spans, and our constant quest for the next ‘hot’ thing, people are quickly turned off by outdated lingo. Keeping a PR professional’s language fresh can only help sell their product or idea. That being said, the word ‘like’ being constantly peppered in our society’s language needs to be fixed. I agree, it makes a person seem less intelligent, when all it is, is our brains trying to cover up blank space. I’m constantly watching what I say to be sure that I refrain from saying ‘like’.

    Reply
  39. Marilyn Oliver

    I wholeheartedly concur that these words and phrases should be a thing of the past. It’s funny how ingrained generic phrases become in a person’s daily life and the habit seems impossible to lose. Maybe the attention should shift from what words people tend to use to why they use them. I believe, in general, people are uncomfortable with pauses in conversation. For whatever reason, the majority of us feel that it’s better to talk more than less because that makes us seem smarter, more put together, and at the very least it eliminates those “unbearably awkward pauses!” Maybe what we’ve been avoiding holds some key solutions to our daily tasks and troubles. Pauses leave room to ponder, to let things settle in, and to simply listen more, (not “hear,” but really listen). Pauses, in theory, could lead to much more productive and meaningful conversations. I’m quick to say “Don’t use that phrase, it weakens your point!” but maybe a better cue would be, “get comfortable with pauses, it’s not your job to fill every moment with words.”

    Reply
  40. caitlin

    After reading this post one word that stuck out to me the most to me was “like”. The word is so often placed into my vocabulary as a space holder or filler. In my linguistics class we discussed the word like and how it can make people sound less intelligent. However, it has become such a popular word in my generation. I do find myself counting how many times people say the word because it certainly sounds silly in professional situations.

    Reply
  41. Kim Gray

    I am very guilty of using the word “like.” I use the word “like” to describe things and especially when I’m comparing. So I obviously abuse and over use this word. I agree with you and Schwartz as far as our word play and terms in the PR profession. As we evolve in this profession, certain words or terms should not be used anymore. We must read more, edcuate ourselves, and focus on developing our vocabulary instead of over using meaningless words or phrases that makes us sound unintelligent. Another phrase that’s annyoing is “it is what it is.”

    Reply
  42. VanessaV

    I am guilty of using the word “like” similarly to the other posters. I did not realize it was a problem, until people pointed it out to me. Even then, I still didn’t think it was that much of a problem. I begin seeing how much of a nuisance the word “like” was in my public speaking course. We all listened to speeches from our peers and in 90% of the speeches the word “like” would appear. Others used the phrase “At the end of the day”. One of my classmates used that phrase so much, that at the end of all his speeches, we would all anticipate him saying “At the end of the day” simultaneously.
    It is an interesting point that you used the ages of 14 to 20 something, when describing the people that use the word “like” and some of these other fillers. It made me wonder if the social groups that form in high school have an effect on your vocabulary. As well as why we are able to shake the habit after our early 20s.

    Reply
  43. ij28

    I’m the kind of person, who can’t even make an appointment without writing everything I’m going to say down on a paper. I’m ver careful with my words, when I have the chance to prepare myself ahead of the time, but this is because I’m not very good at word choice, when I don’t have time to prepare. For example, many people have said, “like” is a very big issue them and I also relate to this. My english teacher used to make me repeat my phrases in class over and over, until I stopped using the word “like.” I truly believe words really count for something big, especially in the PR field. It’s important to revise what we say because what we say can be interpreted very differently, and for PR we need the best choice in communicating.

    Reply
  44. Sarah ElSayed

    I really enjoy the way you concluded this blog entry. I often find myself saying “like” where I shouldn’t, in addition to over using the word “literally”. I would have to agree that similarly to the man who would always conclude by saying “okay?”, I often end with “you know?” to keep the attention of whomever I am speaking with. I would agree that we should try to expand our cliche vocabulary in order to keep our writing and public speaking more vibrant and believable.

    Reply
  45. Steve Jellinek

    The majority of these words and phrases have become so seamlessly integrated into our everyday vernacular that we no longer tend to realize that we’re saying them. However, when solving any problem the first step is always to recognize that there is, in fact, a problem. In order to combat using these cliched phrases all the time, it is important for young professionals such as us to take the time to learn how to control our vocabulary and either create new phrases or get rid of them altogether.

    Reply
  46. Nathalie Salazar

    “How we express our thoughts verbally and in writing create impressions on our profession and ourselves.” I couldn’t agree more, Professor Morosoff. I believe that the PR industry is all about image and making impressions (among other key aspects). Not only is presentation vital in this industry, but so is self-expression in a professional and intelligent manner. I also agree with Schwartz’s comment of “leave the buzzwords at home” when working in PR. Communication is a key aspect of the field and I feel that people in PR should be clear and concise when expressing themselves in business related matters. This leads back to the idea that PR people are essentially “journalists”–we have to pitch and write the main ideas of stories, aside from writing concise press releases that highlight important points or address issues. There is no time for excessive or meaningless talk.

    Reply
  47. Yeliz A

    I am not very familiar with the vocabulary used in the PR world; however, being that I am a Broadcast Journalism major I have to pay close attention to what I write and say. Most females, whether we study PR or not, realize that the word “like” is overused too much in everyday conversations. It’s something I can also admit to saying often, and although it’s used unintentionally I agree that it can become rather annoying. I really like the first quote you used in this post, “When it comes to the various facets of PR and communications, describe what you’re going to do in clear, simple and effective terms and leave the buzzwords at home.” I feel this relates to pretty much every corporate office. When people ramble and add “buzzwords” within an explanation they’re proving to be less effective and persuasive, and instead seem rather distant and cheesy. I personally cannot stand when people say “At the end of the day…” but I also cannot deny the fact that I’ve used it more than once myself.

    Reply
  48. rachelcarru2

    I cannot even express the frustration I feel when i give a presentation in class and catch myself saying, “like,” over and over again. My parents, who are from England, find it hilarious that American young adults use this word so much. They have told me time and time again that it makes me sound less intelligent. I am a very well read and learned individual and it almost breaks my heart that, sometimes, I may not give a good impression to my elders. In PR, specifically, it is very important to make good first impressions, and if I fail at that because of this one “dirty” word, then I won’t make it anywhere.

    Reply
  49. Emily J DiLaura

    Professor Morosoff you could not be more right about the word “like” but I believe the reasoning behind this comes from when we were younger. The word has no meaning necessarily but is more of a placeholder that we tend to use while we gather our thoughts. Not to say it’s right! I myself am trying to get out of the god awful habit but I do think this article is great just to say that words and phrases can be very over used. PR is all about word choice, and it is important to get creative, not just repeat the same phrases! That is just boring!

    Reply
  50. Lindsey

    My parents constantly warn me to be more aware of my overuse of the word “like.” I thought it was a regional colloquialism but it seems it has become more of a generational tendency. I find all of my friends have the habit of using the word not in place of a more intelligent phrase, but rather, as a place holder in a sentence, allowing for more time to formulate the rest of a sentence without pausing. The fear of an awkward pause in the middle of a statement might be what brought on the invasion of improper use of the word “like.” It might be squashed by taking more time to figure out what you want to say before starting to speak.

    Reply
  51. LaChele Prophet

    I work at a high school and a lot of the students use “like” in their conversations. They also use “you know what I mean” or “you get what I’m saying”. They seem to use them as a way to get their point across. We try to teach them other words to use but they are not even aware they do it. They even say “well that’s how people in my family or neighborhood talk” and that’s why they speak the way they do. They find nothing wrong with they way they speak. I guess I don’t find anything wrong with the way I talk either but when it comes down to talking in front of people or doing a presentation I don’t want to sound uneducated. I’m not sure how often I use “like” or other phrases when talking to people but I sometimes notice when other people do it. If I’m going to be working in this field I better start learning how to write and speak at a more professional level because when using those phrases a person does seem less educated than what they really are and I definitely do not want to sound uneducated.

    Reply
  52. Brenna O'Shea

    I think this is a great post because the word LIKE is beyond overused! A ton of my friends subconsciously use the word ten times in once sentence. I tend to use the word a lot as well, but I think I use other words such as “ya know” a little more than “like”. It’s funny because people don’t realize this sometimes until they are made aware of it. Once someone points out that you use a word too frequently, you should take that into consideration, think about it, and be conscious of it. Now trying to correct it and decrease the over all usage of the word can be rather tricky and frustrating. I would say it is definitely a good habit to break because it does sounds a little bit ridiculous at times…

    Reply
  53. Zoe Hoffmann

    Not only are certain “PR” phrases over used, there are also adjectives that become so trite they lose all meaning. During my last internship I worked on a research project regarding market analysis on luxury consumers. Something I found very interesting was how luxury consumers (intended to be the top 1% of income earners) described and perceived luxury. Working in “luxury lifestyle PR” has always been my long-term goal and through various internships I have learned a lot along the way. One thing that always frustrates me is how often PR companies who work for high-end clients, throw around the word “luxury.” If everything is luxury, nothing is truly luxury. Just as how the word “honestly” has become seemingly meaningless, lifestyle PR companies are infamous for overusing words such as “luxury”, and “bespoke.” If we use these words so much, they truly do lose meaning and it makes the writing seem lazy. The ever developing language is just another thing that makes PR so interesting.

    Reply
  54. Alexandra Ciongoli

    One of the main reasons I became interested in Public Relations before coming to college was because I fell in love with the concise style of communication used in the field. I find immense beauty in to-the-point styled writing; I just never quite understood why it was necessary to write ten pages on a subject I could more than adequately discuss in six. That being said, due to the fact that Public Relations involves writing much fewer words than other occupations, it is terribly important to make sure that you choose those few words wisely. I find it interesting that humans give meaning to words; the word “desk” or “hippo” are really just phonetic objects that have been assigned specific, petty titles, and yet somehow it would throw our world into chaos if those petty titles were switched around. It is even more interesting that words in turn give meaning to humans, the way that “like” users are deemed less intelligent by their elders, or the way that someone with an expansive and creative vocabulary is considered more educated by society. I agree with the concept of the article, because I think the words you choose inherently reflect who you are and influence the perception other people have of you. It is vital to consider what you desire your image to be, and it is equally vital to be selective when choosing the words that will help you achieve that ideal image.

    Reply
  55. cmadsenpr

    This is an interesting post, definitely a problem that flies under the radar many times. Words such as “like” and “um” are obviously overused, I’m guilty of these two myself, but I think the other catch phrases that need to be phased out don’t go as noticed. When I’m watching someone give a presentation I noticed immediately if they are saying “um” too much and once I realize that, it’s the only thing I can focus on. I think most people have a certain go-to catch phrase that they use at the beginning or end of many sentences. This habit can be extremely hard to shake so I think it’s an individual problem that we all need to become aware of. From there we can work on eliminating our catch phrases from our vocabulary.

    Reply
  56. madalyntundis

    I am beyond guilty of overusing the word like, and it drives my mother crazy. She is constantly point it out to me and making me more aware of it, and yet it is still a habit that I cannot shake. I have heard that it goes away with age, and I hope that’s true because even when I’m being cautious of it, I hear it slip out. It even starts to annoy me!

    Reply
  57. lmansl1

    I’m a 21 year old college student and there’s nothing I find more annoying than students doing a speech in front of the class and saying “like” in between every five words. Many use it as a filler word when they lose their train of thought but it makes them seem very juvenile. In one of my speech communications classes the professor counted every time students said “like” or “umm” in their four minute speech. Some students said it as many as 28 times. In most cases people are unaware of it. I think it’s essential that it is pointed out when people overuse the word. While it may be embarrassing at the time it will greatly aid them in their future.

    Reply
  58. jeremydbeck

    I believe that there is no room for cliches in PR, which is where this all comes from. The message is meant to be as sincere and straightforward as possible. When the message is muddled with overused sayings, the message itself suffers.

    Reply
  59. Whitney Shepherd

    When reading this article I found my self nodding in agreement to most of the things mentioned. I definitely think that a major part of Public Relations is great communication skills. There are many phrases that people say that are extremely popular, but that are not the best in a professional setting. I can say that I am definitely guilty of using the word “like” in many of my sentences. However, I have become more aware of the excessive use of the word because when talking to professionals and other adults a person does come off a little less intelligent. I am also guilty of saying the popular phrase “to be honest with you”, but I have constrained myself to not using the phrase in a professional setting. I think one of the bigger issues with my generation today is not being able to separate conversations with their peers and conversations with adults and other professionals. I think it is very important to know some of the phrases and words that should not be used as much and I definitely think that more people should read this article.

    Reply
  60. Alexandra Cohen

    I know so many people who use the word “like”. Everyone is guilty of using this word, including myself and I’m trying my best not to use it at all. I’ve had professors in the past use this word in every sentence and their class was annoying to sit through. I agree that more females use this word. This word has become part of our everyday language and you have to become aware of what you’re saying. Think before you speak.

    Reply
  61. Chelsey Fuller

    I love this post! The public should be made aware of these overused and frankly annoying phrases. As a college student I hear my professors all start and end their lectures with the same phrases. Then when it comes to our writing or presentations they encourage us to come up with different words or transitions. In my opinion, professors should be taking their own advice. Nothing inspires creativity more than creativity itself. If students see how original and fresh professors presentations are it will encourage them to achieve the same success. It will lead them away from all those “traditional” phrases that do nothing for you. The only way to steer away from these overused phrases, like stated above, is to completely cut them out of our vocabulary.

    Reply
  62. akrame27

    What caught my attention after reading this post was the overuse of the word like. I know I use the word “like” like its going out of style as well as everyone else in my social circle. The problem is that there is a dip in the proper use of vocab. I think this is contingent upon the fact that the majority of society are falling into the texting world where vocab just does not matter. Therefore we end up using the word “like” seven times in a sentence making it more of a bad habit that has been transferred to all areas of our communicating and writing professional or not.

    Reply
  63. Ariana Goldklang

    I can understand why using the term “to be honest with you” sounds insincere. I feel like many people use it when they are really trying to convince someone of something and pushing to make them see their point. As for the word “like”, I’m guilty of overusing this one as well. I think so many teens use the word “like” so many times in a sentence that we don’t even notice it anymore. I once had a high school teacher that made us restart the sentence we were saying if we used “like” in a presentation. It actually became very helpful and people become more conscious of it when they realized how much they were using it.

    Reply
  64. Lyndi Catania

    I found this article to be very interesting. Although I am guilty of using some of the listed phrases, I have to agree that some of them should be deleted. I can definitely see why “to be honest with you” is an insincere phrase and I’m not a fan of it either. I also enjoy the part about using the term “like”. It is one thing if an individual uses the term “like” while speaking verbally, but I believe it is a whole different thing when somebody adds it to their writing. It is especially important to make sure it is not added to an important, professional piece. I know plenty of people including professionals, that use the term “like” while speaking out loud. I feel as though it is just a way of gathering their thoughts and giving themselves time to think in between words. As far as writing goes, I think it is a lot easier to avoid the term “like”. There is time to proof read and more time to gather the words while writing. I most certainly agree that the way we present ourselves verbally and through writing are important for first impressions.

    Reply
    1. Lyndi Catania

      Also, some of these phrases are so common that I am used to hearing them. I don’t think I would think anything of it if I heard a professional say them. I’m not so sure if they are capable of being completely deleted in the professional world. I actually don’t mind the phrase “moving forward” , but I can see why certain others are annoying, such as “at the end of the day”.

      Reply
  65. croyal13

    I am guilty of using the word like in a lot on my coversations. I know I use it as a conversations holder when I am trying to get my thoughts together. However, I do find it quite annoying when people use the phrase continuously. It takes away from the sincerity of the speech and of the person. I also find phrases such as frankly and honestly to take away from the seriousness of the conversation. If a person must say honestly, are they lying the rest of the time? I find it to have the same effect as someone beginning a sentence with No offense, but….Usually, what they say is actually an insult.

    Reply
  66. Rachel Tyler

    I will admit to using the word “like” a lot. As I am getting older I realize that using “like” so often can make me seem uneducated. I use this word when I speak more then when I write so it is a habit that I am working on breaking. The words and phrases that were given in the article I do see written a lot in articles and so on. I do find that it is hard for me to concentrate when these words and phrases are used and I will have to reread the article several times to understand what is being said. In the field of communications I think it is very important for us to think about the wording we choose to use and how it will come across to our audience.

    Reply
  67. Cody Dano

    I agree that as we age, we need to become more aware of the way we talk to others around us. I know I still say the word “like” more than I probably should, but I am trying to curb myself of this. As for some of the other phrases, I personally feel like they can almost be demeaning. When a boss or a peer constantly uses them in a conversation, it can make it seem as though you are not on their level.

    Reply
  68. Jaime Silano

    There are a lot of words and terms in this article that I couldn’t agree more are annoying and unnecessary. I have always disliked the word “synergy.” If anyone used this term in a serious business proposal, I would immediately associate them with a “new millenium” try-hard. I group it with words like “dynamite,” under the category “words that need to die.” That being said, this is a far more relevant issue than most people take into account. High school and college students use the term “like” SO frequently in conversation, it becomes hard not be distracted. Recently, I saw a commercial where someone says “tell me about it…” and keeps talking, and the other person calls them out on it, asking “did you just say ‘tell me about it?’ and keep talking?” It made me laugh, but it is very true. These cliche’ terms that don’t even mean what they say need to be removed from our vocabulary. It is very difficult to be taken seriously and trusted enough to persuade an audience when you are speaking like a used car salesman. I.E. the first thing I think when someone says “the fact of the matter is,” or “i’m going to be honest with you,” is that they’re about to tell me something with little or no truth to it at all. In order to establish an air of certainty and dependability, a person cannot cling to these security blanket terms to aid their speech.

    Reply
  69. Joe Flanagan

    A lot of the phrases that are becoming annoying to my ear have been addressed; however from where I come from, there are two distinct phrases that are frequently used. The first phrase is “Let me tell you something”, a phrase that I hear so often as a New Yorker that I want to pull the hair out of my head. Not only does the phrase become annoying, the connotation of the phrase itself is very condescending. This is one of the main phrases I would love to see eliminated from the New York vernacular, and from the english language completely.
    The second phrase I’d like to see deleted is when someone says “Listen”. I notice when people use that phrase in an argument, the person they’re arguing against tends to do the opposite. It has become an expression that is totally ineffective for communicating. When someone uses that phrase to explain something to me I always tend to zone out. I hope one day people realize the horror of this word when communicating.

    Reply
  70. Leia Schultz

    I agree that as we evolve (personally and professionally) so must our use of language. As you and Schwartz note, there are certain established catchphrases that have no real value in what we say and write as PR professionals. I had one professor of public relations tell the class never to use the word “unique” when describing anything; organizations and brands wants to be thought of as unique, but shouldn’t state the obvious and hinder themselves with this meaningless adjective. People in PR, an industry that relies greatly on the skillful use of language, need to be aware of what they are really saying when they speak and what they are conveying through the words they scribe.

    Reply
  71. Lauren Platt

    I have been working on not using the word “like” so much. It is more so an issue for me verbally rather than written but it is something that I can’t stand when people do either. I think wording is so important for any career, but especially for a career in the communications field when you are always speaking and writing. I tend to read sentences over and over again before I feel that they are sufficient enough and worded well.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.