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Watch What You Say – It May Be a Cliché

Every day in the workplace we hear clichés, which are common expressions that have been overused to the extent that they’ve lost their true meaning. Two clichés that are currently in common use are “at the end of the day” and “it is what it is.” A cliché is an overused idiom, i.e. an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meaning of its elements. One example of an idiom is “getting cold feet.”

When you hear someone using a cliché, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? You may think, “Perhaps the speaker does not have the adequate vocabulary to communicate their thoughts.” Don’t get me wrong, idioms can be helpful when you are attempting to explain things in simplified terms. However, when an idiom is overused, it can become a cliché.

In a business environment a cliché can undermine your credibility, especially if it’s frequently being used by others. A cliché can also make your speech sound canned or even flippant. Instead of setting you apart from others, a cliché can make you sound like everyone else. If you want to be noticed and have others remember what you say, consider avoiding some of the more popular clichés listed below. As a personal exercise, read the clichés listed below and think of another way to express the same idea. The next time you’re tempted to use one of these clichés, substitute your new phrase and notice how others pay greater attention to what you say.

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