Business English idiom cliches and alternative vocabulary

When you are working, do all of your colleagues and clients clearly understand your business English, or are you speaking in corporate buzzwords that cloud your meaning?

New business vocabulary and hot phrases are a big temptation to use, as they can make you feel clever and ‘in with the in crowd’, but these chunks of English can very quickly become cliches and should be avoided.

A recent article featured in the Linkedin Pulse section of useful business-related articles highlighted that native-speakers find the overused idioms extremely annoying to hear.

In addition, if you are dealing with non-native speakers in international business, would these people even understand these idioms? English idioms are generally learnt in the more advanced stages of English learning when someone is almost fluent. So, if your speech is littered with idioms, you are possibly alienating your mother-tongue speakers and confusing English as a second language speakers. That’s not good business!

As one of the key foundations of effective business is great communication, let’s return to plain English that gets your message across in straight-talking, direct and simple terms that everyone can understand.

Business English idiom alternative phrases

The article mentioned above by LinkedIn Influencer, Dr Travis Bradberry listed 25 annoying British and American business phrases that should be avoided. In the video below, we’ve included the most common annoying business idioms from British English, but instead of leaving you searching for words, we have provided you with a clear English alternative to be used in any business situation.


Don’t you hate stock photos of business life?

Now these images are a joke in the business world as they are so overused.

Your business English might also be cliched if you are using some idioms.  So, let’s look at the Business phrases NOT to use and some clear English alternative vocabulary.

IDIOM: Get the ball rolling

CLEAR ENGLISH: Let’s start

IDIOM: We need to hit the ground running with this project

CLEAR ENGLISH: We need to start the project well

IDIOM: Let’s think outside the box for a moment

CLEAR ENGLISH: Are there any other possible solutions?

IDIOM: It’s low hanging fruit

CLEAR ENGLISH: It’s easy to do

IDIOM: I’ve got a lot on my plate right now

CLEAR ENGLISH: I’m very busy at the moment

IDIOM: It’s all hands on deck to get this over and done with

CLEAR ENGLISH: Everyone is working extra hard to finish this.

IDIOM: Let’s touch base next week

CLEAR ENGLISH: Let’s speak again next week

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