How to Stop Using a Crutch Word

crutches Merriam – Webster knows a little something about words. They just released the word of the year for 2008 … beg.

No, wait a minute, that’s our word for their word! Their word is … bailout.

Oxford University also recently released their own list – the most irritating phrases of 2008.



Among them:

  • "24/7" finished ninth on the list. Can we add 365 to it?
  • "With all due respect" came in fifth. It made us think of one that irritates us. Why do people say, “I’m not trying to be rude” when they are getting ready to say something rude?
  • And the phrase that the wonderful people at Oxford found most irritating – “at the end of the day.”


marylynnI love The Apprentice, but have you ever noticed how many contestants use that phrase over and over again?



georgeI think I just figured out my New Year’s Resolution for 2009. I’m going to start using the phrase, “at the beginning of the day” because I’m an optimist!


These phrases are crutches gone mainstream. They made us think about our own crutches.


georgeI say “that’s right” a lot which is similar to “absolutely” which finished sixth on the Oxford list.



marylynnI find myself saying “you know” more often than I would like. That’s definitely my crutch.


Getting off crutches

  • Record yourself. In order to stop using crutch words, you have to become aware of them. Record yourself and listen to the words you’re using as a crutch.
  • Create substitutes. Come up with two or three alternates to the word or phrase you use over and over. When you feel yourself ready to rely on your crutch, or you know you’ve already said it, force yourself to use a different word or phrase.

So let’s look at “you know.” Why not lead with …

“You’re probably aware of this.”
“You may find this interesting.”
“I bet you can relate to this.”

Don’t those phrases sound better if you’re going to use one?

“That’s right” could be “Good point” or “You’re dead on.”

  • Pause to think. We won’t speak for you, but sometimes when we talk, our mouths seem to get ahead of our brains! So we lean on our crutches to fill the space. That’s because, as humans, we’re uncomfortable with … silence.

There’s no reason to be. A second of silence gives you time to fully digest what has been said. It actually improves communication.

What’s your crutch? What alternatives could you use? And, while we’re at it, what word or phrase drives you crazy?

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The Other Pause that Refreshes

12 Ways to Make Your Next Meeting Your Worst Meeting

Studies show that we spend about 15 percent of our work week in meetings. If you’re lucky, right? Many of these meetings are a huge waste of time … and money.

We thought we’d list some ways to make sure the next meeting you run is a bad one:

#1 – Call a meeting even if you don’t have anything to discuss.
Better yet, just call a meeting on the fly because an important issue has come up for you, and you need answers now! It’s important to you so it must be the most important thing for everyone else.

#2 – If in doubt about whether someone should attend the meeting, invite them.

Or just call an all staff meeting, even if it only affects a small percentage of the group. It may be peripheral to their jobs, but they should hear it anyway!

#3 – Make your agenda so vague that no one knows what the meeting is about.

Don’t distribute it in advance so people can come to the meeting prepared. Keep them in the dark about what’s going to be discussed. The best way to do this – don’t have an agenda at all.

#4 – Don’t start the meeting on time.
Or up the ante … don’t be on time for your own meeting. It doesn’t matter if everyone is waiting for you. Your time is more valuable than theirs.

#5 – Kick off the meeting on a negative note.
Tell everyone how bad things are. Look for scapegoats – call them out in front of their peers. People just love that.

#6 – Don’t stick to the schedule.
Or don’t have a schedule at all. Who really cares when this meeting will be over? Nothing is more important than your meeting. Nobody else has anything to do.

#7 – Don’t ever defer a conversation to a later date.
Even if a point of discussion starts eating into precious time, keep it on the table. It was on your agenda, so it must be dealt with today. The meeting can either go long or you can just give the other points less attention.

#8 – Do most of the talking.
Don’t plan for participation. People love to hear you talk. Dominate the conversation. There’s no need for you to listen during a meeting. That’s certainly won’t help solve any problems.

#9 – When someone presents an idea, be quick to shoot them down.
There will be no free flow of ideas in your meeting! You’re in control. Who do they think they are anyway?

#10 – No matter how long your meeting runs, don’t take any breaks.
People love to just sit and sit and sit. It’s best to introduce new ideas to your staff or try to find the solution to an ongoing problem after they feel lethargic from a lack of activity. And of course, no one needs to use the restroom.

#11 – Let that guy (or gal), who loves to hear himself (or herself) talk, go on and on.
Don’t cut them off. Don’t bring the meeting back to its focus.

#12 – Make sure nothing gets accomplished.
When the meeting is finally over, there should be no plans for action, no decisions should have been made, no issues should get resolved, and no follow up should be scheduled. People love sitting around in meetings that don’t accomplish anything.

Our bigg quote today is by Steve Kaye:

“An employee who needs permission to buy a box of paperclips can spend
tens of thousands of dollars worth of employee time on bad meetings.”

Waste is waste … whether it’s paper clips or time.

What are your pet peeves about meetings? Leave a Comment and let us know.

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(Image by wagg66)


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