I grew up riding a bike with high handlebars and a banana seat and thought nothing of asking my best friend, Joe Harris, to give me a “pump” home. I would sit against the “sissy bar,” between the tall front handles, or behind Joe, perched on the long, narrow seat. While I fondly remember my past, my professional vocabulary does not include the term, “back in the day” – it’s dated, and sends a message that I was cutting down a cherry tree with George Washington!
Just as you keep your business attire current and your teeth cleaned and whitened, it would also be a good idea to lose some of the outdated terms and phrases that no longer apply. Here are a few that grate on my nerves when I hear a presenter use them:
- Surfing the Net. Consider replacing this phrase with “online.” Rather than “dialing up” the computer to check the “World Wide Web,” (and, yes, I recently heard someone say this!), hire someone to develop an app (or do it yourself) for your mobile customers who may need quick access to the information you offer.
- The Big Cheese. Does not refer to a large hunk of Gouda. This would be your current boss, 15 years your junior.
- “Let’s Do Lunch.” You don’t “do” lunch, you share lunch with a client or someone you are building a relationship with. If you are interested in sharing a meal and want to meet someone for lunch, make the call and set a date. Remember, if you extend the invitation, you are also expected to pay the bill and leave the gratuity.
- The Boob Tube. This ridiculous term is an outdated, unsophisticated term for the television. Remove, delete, purge from your vocabulary.
- Stewardess. According to America by Air, “Reflecting the social changes of the 1960s and ’70s, the term ‘stewardess’ evolved into gender-neutral ‘flight attendant.’ Flight attendants have a great deal of responsibility, among the most important is to keep you safe while traveling.”
- Secretary. The person who manages your business life, makes your travel arrangements, confirms your appointments, sends out your important documents, and makes you look good by acting as an Ambassador of your company would appreciate being called your “executive assistant.”
- Tickled Pink. I was recently a keynote speaker at an event where a very “genteel” woman, still reminiscing of her cotillion days, introduced me by slowly and painfully reading my bio, word for word, mispronouncing my name, and then ad-libbed, “Now, I’m tickled pink to introduce…” Not an appropriate intro for a group of business executives. Lesson learned.
- “I’ll Check My Rolodex”. Since most of us carry our contacts via our smartphones, the word Rolodex is often used out of context.
- Tickler File. In an age when most files have gone digital, a tickler file has fallen by the wayside, next to “tickled pink.”
- The Twitter. The correct term is “Twitter,” and your friends are not “Twitts.” Yet another situation where the speaker was not familiar with terms that were being discussed as part of their own presentation. It was extremely uncomfortable to watch – like a train wreck!
- Maven and Diva. If you want to be seriously considered as a businesswoman, don’t even think about getting these terms imprinted on a vanity license plate for your car.
Words are constantly being updated to reflect the latest developments but a mannerly rule to live by is this: Never, use words to demean, degrade, or make fun of anyone else. Outdated, updated, overdated, or underrated – you are responsible for what comes out of your own mouth. Is there an outdated term or phrase that you would prefer to never hear again? Tweet me @dianegottsman or post on my Facebook page.