Banned Expressions – Part 1


This is one of my favorite topics. When I sit in meetings or read documents (including many proposals), I come across words and expressions that I think should be banned from our vocabulary. This is the first is a series of articles that I will write on the topic. I will limit myself to three words or expressions in each installment. I welcome your thoughts, so please leave me a comment to let me know what you think and to suggest some of your favorite words or expressions to be avoided.

My top three expressions are:

#1: We are pleased to submit … — Even though every proposal manual says to strike this expression from your vocabulary, I continue to see it repeatedly used as the first line in a proposal or cover letter. Of course, your are pleased to submit. You don’t need to say this to the client. Start out with something that will grab their attention. Shipley says that the first words in your proposal should be about the customer. I agree whole-heartedly with this. Make the customer important and tell them that you understand their problem and have a great solution that will make their job easier.

#2: Ours to Lose — This expression always leads me to believe we will lose. It is “ours to win” which has a much more positive tone.

#3: Must Win — If any bid is a “must win”, then management should be fired. Nothing is a “must win”. It might be highly desirable or a key strategic win, but I have never seen a company go out of business when it loses a “must win”.

=> More to come in the next installment of “Banned Expressions”.

Tell me your favorite expressions to avoid by leaving a comment below.

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Posted on October 5, 2011, in Banned Expressions, Communications and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. John,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I will add it to my list

  2. Still see all too often this statement in proposals: “…..take appropriate measures….”

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