Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ten business cliches that prove you’re lazy

There are cliches and there are cliches. Most cliches became cliches because they had begun as clever, handy physical analogies for abstractions. For example: Scraping the bottom of the barrel. A loose cannon. One foot in the grave, the other on a banana peel.

There’s nothing wrong with using this type of cliche, so long as: (1) you recognize that you are using a shopworn expression; (2) you recognize therefore that you are sacrificing originality to save time; (3) you don’t overdo it (say, more than one cliche per 1,000 words of finished copy).

But there is another type of cliche – the counterproductive cliche. You should never use this type of cliche. The ghostwriter Jeff Haden (pictured) gives ten examples in an excellent piece in Inc. magazine. Here’s an excerpt:
“Failure is not an option.”

This one is often used by a leader who gets frustrated and wants to shut down questions about a debatable decision or a seemingly impossible goal: “Listen, folks, failure is simply not an option.” (Strikes table or podium with fist.)

Failure is always a possibility. Just because you say it isn’t doesnt make it so.

Don’t reach for a platitude. Justify your decision. Answer the hard questions.

If you can’t, maybe your decision isn’t so wise after all.
The Takeaway: I urge you to read the rest of the article. You have probably heard all ten cliches, especially if you work in business; now find out why you should not use them.

See disclaimer.

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