Are Clichés Killing How You Communicate?

When you look at your corporate and external communications, are you in the weeds using clichés and jargon? Or are you speaking to customers and prospects like a human, the way they talk?

By definition, 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. We use clichés when we don’t know how else to describe something or, to be honest, when we’re feeling lazy.

Cliches, like overused marketing language such as “leading,” “innovative,” “top,” etc., can harm the effectiveness of your efforts.

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 we hear 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.

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