Well known popular cliches, sayings, and expressions are used by people
in the work place, at the office, and at home. Some believe that cliches
should be avoided, but the best advice is to use cliches thoughtfully.
We hear and read popular cliches in real life conversations, movies, audio books, television shows - everywhere. Cliches are, for the most part, expressions that explain things in simplified terms. Like everything, using them has advantages and disadvantages. When you use them wisely, this can help you in various ways. That's why this page is included on our executive coaching website.
Understanding popular cliches can give ideas, suggestions, techniques, tips, and help in solving various challenges we often face in business, at the office, at home, or wherever we may be. I hope you will benefit from the examples I've chosen and the definitions and meanings as well.
• "Let's think outside of the box" - new, unusual, creative ideas for generating business or better organizing ourselves are needed and wanted.
• "Don't put all of your eggs into one basket" - it's time to diversify. Expand the products/services offered. Don't count completely on one customer, supplier, piece of equipment, or person, which often creates needless risk. (However, there are situations that you must put all your eggs in one basket - such as astronauts flying into space.)
• "The writing is on the wall" - this means that it's now obvious that something is about to happen, which could be good or bad, and may require immediate attention.
• "Do as I say, not as I do" - this implies management expects their associates to follow its orders, even if management doesn't follow their own orders. (But this is usually quite demoralizing for the associates.)
• "A win-win situation" - both parties (such as the business and its clients) should benefit from a business transaction or opportunity.
• "Might Makes Right" - people and organizations that are strong and wealthy usually get their way. (But this isn't always true: eventually, people and groups that "over-reach" - that are unethical - will face more resistance from various people, and sometimes will lose some of their power, money or clout.)
• "That's as clear as mud" - the explanation given is unclear; people don't understand what was said.
• "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" - don't give up quickly, if you have an important goal you want to accomplish. (But don't keep trying to do it the same way, because you'll likely get the same outcome.)
• "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" - being away from a person or situation makes you want it more. (But this isn't always true: sometimes one finds that you don't miss the person or situation that much, and may be better off without.)
• "You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks" - as people get older, we get more set in our ways and won't change. (But this isn't true: we do change physically as we age, have the ability to learn from the past, and can be encouraged to change.)
• "Clothes Don't Make the Man" - just because a person is well-dressed and looks attractive doesn't mean that person necessarily has lots of positive qualities or is someone you should get involved with.
• "There's No Place like Home" - it's often fun to experience new places but, at the end of the day, it's great to be home. (But eventually, most of us become ready to leave home, and find a new home.)
• "Money is the Root of all Evil" - the desire to have and keep money make people fight, cheat and do bad things. (Although this is sometimes true, many people use their money to do good things.)
• "The World is Paved with Good Intentions" - lots of people say and think about doing good things - but don't follow through with good action.
• "The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions" - similar in meaning to the above, but this implies that as things get bad, people often STILL DON'T take actions that could improve things, so things keep getting worse.
• "Slippery Slope" - when people are on a slippery slope, they're in a dangerous, risky situation. In business, they're more likely to make a move (business decision) which won't work out, and their position/situation will go from bad to worse.
• "Rob Peter to Pay Paul" - when people can't take care of all of their obligations and are spread thin, they don't pay (or take back from) one obligation and pay another one.
• "Don't Rock the Boat" - this means to leave things alone if they're going OK as is. (But eventually, many people want changes, and do "rock the boat".)
• "Rome wasn't built in a day" - don't expect to make big accomplishments too quickly. It takes time AND smart, well planned work to produce great things.
Almost all children learn cliches; this carries into adulthood. People learning "English as a Second Language" are taught cliches, too; it's a "window" into our language and culture, for better AND for worse.
Cliches are often used to motivate, inspire, and make people think and learn about particular situations. There are times when popular cliches are perfectly acceptable language, are quite effective, and will even make people laugh and provide some levity!
But be aware that like anything, some people use cliches too often and inappropriately. It can make people sound "canned" or even "flippant". And, cliches are not correct in all situations. Like to discuss this, or something else on your mind? If so, please contact me. I'd be happy to meet you by email or phone.
Use your best judgment when using popular cliches and you're likely to use them successfully to convey your point.