There are some phrases that just tend to set one's teeth on edge. They aren't actually evil, just pretentious, tired or unintentionally offensive. They insinuate themselves into your vocabulary without you even realizing it, and then burst forth to the annoyance of those around you.
Since you have to work with lawyers and non-lawyers in your company setting, you want to be particularly careful about how you express yourself. Here are five phrases that seem particularly common among lawyers:
This one seems to have only come up in the past year or two. People use it when they are engaged in a discussion and wish to show that they understand and agree. It's easy to not notice, but once you do, you realize it's a little uncouth. Yes, I understand might be a good replacement.
2. Real Quick
As in, "can you do this for me real quick?" It's meant to say, "I hate to inconvenience you for even a moment," but it can sound like you're hurrying the person. It is generally said in place of please. Please would be a very nice substitute.
3. It Is What It Is
What a worthless, pointless tautology. It usually means "I'm not happy with the situation the way it is, but I've given up. There's nothing we can do. Let us accept it as one of the eternal verities." It's better to say nothing, or, better yet, fix the problem.
4. It Begs the Question
No, it doesn't. Begging the question is a specific logical fallacy, and using the phrase incorrectly merely advertises the fact that the speaker has never taken a rigorous philosophy class. Deep breath. The phrase is not a serious crime, but misusing begging the question will annoy
pedantic anal-retentives a certain group of people. Badly.
Plus, who wants to talk about begging? We're lawyers. We don't beg, except sometimes to sometimes to "beg" the court's indulgence or the court's pardon, but even then we're not, you know, sincere. Let's go with that raises the question or, if we want to go all old-school cliché, that opens up another can of worms.
5. No Problem
The problem with no problem is that it implies that, well, there might have been a problem. No problem is often said in place of you're welcome. You're welcome can indeed sound a little cold or short at times, even if it shouldn't. I'm glad to be of service, happy to help or it was my pleasure are warm and traditional alternatives to you're welcome.
These are just five of the many phrases that drive people nuts. Are there others? Word. Maybe later we'll circle back and revisit some other phrases, the getting rid of which might have a positive impact. After all, it's not rocket science.
Do you have some annoying phrases to share? Reach out to us on Facebook and let's see if we can't leverage our mutual annoyance and go viral.
Editor's note, April 26, 2016: This post was first published in April, 2014. It has since been updated.
- 10 Things You Should Never Say at the Office (CBS MoneyWatch)
- 5 Grammar Mistakes Lawyers Make (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Making a Good Impression With Clients: 3 Simple Tips (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Don't Let These Pesky Pronoun Errors Make You Look Bad (FindLaw's Strategist)