The Art of War (References): The 50 Most Common War, Military and Combat Phrases in Business.

Battle terminology has been a mainstay in the business lexicon for decades. We hear it all the time: business activities described in terms based on war and waging battle with enemies. The list of war references used in business is almost endless, from “gathering the troops” to “losing a battle but winning the war.” Think about it--even the act of being asked to leave a job is called "being fired." The use of these terms is so ubiquitous that we often forget their origins.

One problem with war references is that they aren't terribly original. The use of war or combat references may be generally common practice, but it doesn't make it interesting or original. Rather, it falls into the category of cliché.

It is also disrespecting those who serve. War is a very serious business, and those that serve in the military are literally putting their lives at risk in order to defend a country or an ideology. Therefore, to compare business to a military engagement could be construed as disrespectful to those who have put their lives in harms way. Using military references may be a poor comparison to something that is nowhere near the horrors of war.

Analogies may be one way to describe an experience, but people should always be careful that they are talking about something that actually relates to their particular situation.

Let me give you 50 examples of war and combat references that are used in daily business conversations: 

  1. We need to capture the market
  2. We need to eliminating the competition
  3. We need to secure the market position
  4. He’s having a war of words
  5. We’re heading into the War Room
  6. We’re working under battlefield conditions
  7. We need to fight to the last man
  8. We might see some collateral damage
  9. Are we battle-ready?
  10. The competition is laying in wait
  11. What’s our plan of attack?
  12. This is our Gettysburg
  13. Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes
  14. We need to get some boots on the ground
  15. He deserves a battlefield promotion
  16. What are the rules of engagement?
  17. This is going to explode in the marketplace
  18. We need to kill that story
  19. We need to deploy all available troops on this one
  20. Taking one for the team
  21. We’re going to outflank the competition
  22. What’s the five-year plan?
  23. It’s a shot in the dark
  24. Win the battle but lose the war
  25. Let’s deploy some guerilla tactics
  26. Get some competitive intel on that guy
  27. We’re going to dominate the market
  28. We need to preempt the competition
  29. Map out a plan of attack
  30. They’ve declare war on our products
  31. That’s classified
  32. We’re at Def-con 4
  33. He’s the Commander-in-chief
  34. I need my Generals at my side
  35. Gather the foot soldiers in the conference room
  36. Forging an alliance
  37. He’s laying in wait
  38. Who’s our target?
  39. We need to ambush them
  40. We’re waging a counter offensive
  41. Barrage of attacks (military barrier)
  42. Establish a beachhead
  43. Get some air cover over there
  44. Flank the competition
  45. He’s partolling the perimeter
  46. He has a scorched earth policy on that one
  47. I’ve been out-ranked
  48. We’re under siege
  49. We’re dodging slings and arrows
  50. We’re under fire from all sides
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