Empty words that don’t really mean anything. They’re almost worse than “you know” and “like.” Words like these need to be eliminated from my vocabulary.

I think the word that bugs me the most is “busy.” As in, “I cannot have lunch with you because I’m so busy.”

When I find myself using the word busy, I take a breath. In today’s world everyone is busy. To say I’m so busy is a little condescending, a lot unthoughtful. It implies that what the other person is doing is not as important as what I’m doing. It sometimes abruptly ends a conversation, and even, if used often enough, ends friendships.

Like the meme I saw online the other day — dirty dishes mean I’ve had a meal, aches and pains in the morning mean I’ve been given another day. Busy obscures what I’ve really been blessed with and makes me miss being present with the current conversation. It cheats me out on something good.

I’ve been working to replace busy in my vocabulary.

I think to do so is a bit more gracious, adds a little seasoning to my conversation, and helps me acknowledge people and the fact that we’re all busy.

For example, I’ve been using the word “productive” when I’m referring to my job. “I’ve been productive today. I sent ten emails and negotiated two contracts. And, I’ve got a jammed calendar. Yet, I would love to go to lunch soon, can we schedule it?”

I’ve shared my dislike of busy with several of my friends. We’ve come up with some pretty silly euphemisms all in good fun. We’ve learned that in all of our busy-ness when we’re more specific, more open about how ridiculous it is to always say we’re busy, we can find ways to honor one another.

Is there something you need to rephrase?