Are Clichés Killing How You Communicate?

At the end of the day, are you so in the weeds with using clichés instead of thinking outside the box and circling back to the low hanging fruit? In my opinion, let’s put a stake in the ground, manage expectations and eat our own dog food. Huh? Are we too reliant on clichés that we aren’t communicating effectively? On Twitter for example, we have a limited amount of time and characters to get our point across and engage our audience. We’ve become so accustomed to using clichés instead of trying to figure out a more concise way of saying what we mean.

A cliché is an expression or idea which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was meaningful or novel. By definition its annoying. We use clichés when we don’t know how else to describe something or, to be honest, when we’re feeling lazy.

DilbertCliches

Clichés have their place and time but don’t get so comfortable that you rely solely on them to get your point across. Using too many can hurt your credibility as a marketer, writer, or manager. Here is a list of clichés that I hear (or use) on a regular basis:

  1. Circle back
  2. At the end of the day
  3. To be honest
  4. Going forward
  5. Touch base
  6. In the weeds
  7. In my opinion
  8. We’re eating our own dog food
  9. Putting lipstick on a pig
  10. Let’s put a stake in the ground
  11. One-off
  12. We need to manage expectations
  13. Scalable
  14. Low hanging fruit
  15. Think outside the box

 

What clichés are taking the Twittersphere by storm? When looking at how many times these phrases were tweeted out in the past 30 days in the US there is a strong trend:

Cliche chart

Phrases that relate specifically to honesty trend the highest. “At the end of the day” implies a decision or statement made the despite facts and “to be honest” implies that the majority of statements made are not true – but this one is. In the example of Twitter, you only have 140 characters. Why would you waste it on a cliché?

Challenge yourself. Add some clichés to your electronic dictionary so they show up as misspellings. Try to remove at least one cliché from your communication a day and try be more direct. Circle back and let me know how it goes.

Katie Lioy
Manager, Marketing Technology

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Posted on March 23, 2016 in Speaking, Writing

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  • drewpendleton

    Interesting read! It’s definitely true that some of these phrases have become incredibly commonplace; I know “touch base” and “at the end of the day” are ones that I probably use too much. These phrases have become so typical that sometimes we may not even realize the subtext they carry that this post explores. I will definitely take your advice and try to come up with new ways to be a better, more direct communicator. Thanks for the insight!

    – Drew Pendleton, Writer/Editor at Platform Online Magazine (http://platformmagazine.org/)

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