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Words to Ban in the New Year

Are you looking for a quick way to improve your business communication in 2006? How about banishing a few stale words and phrases from your presentations and documents?

Lake Superior State University, in Michigan (USA), publishes an annual Banished Word List.  Their list of words and phrases to avoid in 2006 includes these:

  • Surreal
  • Hunker down
  • Person of interest
  • Community of learners
  • Up or down vote
  • Breaking news
  • Designer breed
  • FEMA
  • First-time caller
  • Pass the savings on to you
  • 97% fat free
  • An accident that didn’t have to happen
  • Junk science
  • Git-er-done
  • Dawg
  • Talking points
  • Holiday tree

Visit the Banished Word List page for brief, light-hearted explanations of why these expressions made the list. Here’s an example of what you’ll find:

Community of Learners: A five-dollar phrase on a nickel errand. Value-added into many higher education mission statements. Not to be confused with "school."

For an extensive list of words to avoid, pick up a copy of Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, my favorite book on business communication.

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.