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Cliche Stay Away Or Cliche Away?

David Law

Wed, 2 Dec, 2020

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 3 minutes

Are clichés the absolute worst and need to be obliviated? Or are they just par for the course and we need to accept it? They get a lot of stick on LinkedIn and people are always being called out for not being genuine or original. But, do we not just repeat phrases because we’ve seen the situation before?

If Christopher Booker is correct, which for the record I think he is, there are only seven basic plots for stories. Every story that has ever been written; books, movies, plays, can fit into one of seven pre-existing story lines. So the chances are if you’ve lived on this planet for 18 plus years, you’ve come across situations that you’ve been in or witnessed before, and therefore have a preconceived reaction, solution, or commentary to that scenario based on the outcomes from the last time you saw it.

Let’s take a look at the so-called clichés that really rattle peoples bones –   

“Work smarter, not harder.”   

People hate it because – it’s often used as a put down when someone has spent a lot of time on something, as though belittling their time and effort.

But it’s true – we’re all cautious of needing a work / life balance, and it’s been proven we’re actually more productive when we do. So, if you are spending an excessive amount of time doing a task then you should be taking a step back (bonus cliché) and figuring out why.

“The more you put in, the more you get out.”  

People hate it because – it contradicts “work smarter, not harder”.   

But it’s true – more doesn’t have to mean time. The “more” in this saying is referring to efforts, attention, attitude and giving it your all. I think we can all agree that the more energy and enthusiasm we bring to something, the better the outcome will be.    

“Think outside the box.”

People hate it because – it’s overused and maybe not as easy as this short saying makes it seem.   

But it’s true – it’s a nice reminder that there are always other options. If you’re not heading in the desired direction then have a look at other routes. They might be longer and more complicated and not in the area you were set on (the box) but, they might just work even better!   


People hate it because – it’s a very bold statement and maybe comes across as though the person or organisation is overly confident about what they’re outputting. I must remind them they are a nobody and whatever they’re excited about is probably rubbish.

But it’s true – the game is changed every day with new technology emerging faster than ever before. If you don’t have the faith that your product or solution is going to seriously disrupt the industry and make people’s lives easier, then what’s the point? Believe it’s a  game-changer, tell people it’s a game-changer, then watch it change the game.  

“Works well on own initiative or as part of a team.”

People hate it because – it’s in almost every single CV ever written and it basically just says “I work well” because, unless you’re in the circus or something (in which case, I really hope you’d say something better than this), these are the only two scenarios you’d ever be working in.   

But it’s true – well that may be but ugh, who cares, Let’s retire this one, please! 

So, do you agree with my opinion on clichés not being the devil? I mean, have you never broken up with someone and said “It’s not you, it’s me” but genuinely meant it? The stigma of it being a cliché makes you think you shouldn’t say it because they won’t believe you. But I say, go forth and cliché away.   And if you don’t agree, I challenge you to go a day without using a single cliché and speak only in your own original words. If you can, I’ll eat my hat. 

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