Don’t just act smart

To get your ideas across use small words, big ideas, and short sentences.
– John Henry Patterson

A recent Forbes article on clichés reiterates how clichés permeate business.  If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It’s both cringe-worthy and awesome.

According to Merriam-Webster, a cliché is “a trite phrase or expression; also : the idea expressed by it” and “something (as a menu item) that has become overly familiar or commonplace.” All of the clichés in the list are spoken in more than just an MBA or middle management setting. You’ve probably heard many of them around your office, if not said at least a few.

It’s easy to fall into the speech patterns of your co-workers, you spend at least eight hours a day with them. Plus, every industry has jargon (medicine, journalism. etc.). The catch is using that jargon outside of the office or with people outside of your industry.

If you can’t explain your idea without using jargon or clichés, how good is that idea? How likely is the project to succeed?

The next time one of the 89 phrases referenced in the article falls from your lips, think about what you really meant to say because it probably wasn’t, “We’ve got to increase our mind-share with the customer” or “We want this to move up and to the right” or “We’ve got too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”

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