It’s no secret that people overuse cliches. If these phrases weren’t overused, they wouldn’t be cliches, would they? When these phrases are used, though, the speaker’s lack of personality, originality, and interest shines right through. They might as well hold up a sign that says “I don’t care enough about this conversation to come up with something personable to say!” I’m not saying this is always the case, but you should always take care not to say any of the following in order to avoid annoying or insulting the person you’re speaking with.
1. “At the end of the day…”
People throw this around as if to say “regardless of everything else you just said, what I’m about to say is the only thing that matters.” It doesn’t matter how valid the other person’s point is; it’s not being taken into consideration. Using this cliche shows a lack of critical thinking skills, and that the speaker only thinks in terms of black and white. “At the end of the day, [arbitrary decision] must be done, no questions asked.” Why not? Are you afraid someone actually might bring up a good idea that you won’t be able to refute?
2. “I know what you mean…”
Do you really? Granted, this is usually used by those who have been doing whatever they can do comfort a distraught friend, and sometimes enough is enough. But rather than being honest with the friend who seems intent on bringing everyone else around him down to his level, you swallow your pride and keep “yes-ing” him to death. You’re not doing him any favors by agreeing with him on points that you don’t actually agree with. And you’re definitely not helping yourself by wasting your time in a cyclical, one-sided conversation, either.
3. “With all due respect…”
Nothing good ever comes after those four words. If someone ever says that to you, what they really mean is: “I’m about to say something really mean, but I don’t want you to think I’m actually that rude…even though I am.” People tend to think that prefacing a jabbing statement with “with all due respect” totally absolves them of any backlash from the person they’re speaking to. It doesn’t work that way. You’re going to hurt someone’s feelings, and they’re going to retaliate one way or another.
4. “Isn’t that always the way?”
This goes along with “I know what you mean.” It usually goes along with listening to a friend’s sob story about how their girlfriend dumped them, or they got laid off from their job, or they just had a terrible day. Though you do care about them, saying something like this usually means “I care about you, but not enough to give you some helpful advice.” Although I can’t blame you if the person dumping their problems on you never takes your advice in the first place. In that case, I guess you could resort to this cliche. If they’re not really listening anyway, what difference does your response make?
5. “It is what it is”
Coming full circle, saying “it is what it is” generally means “I definitely disagree with the way things are, but who am I to change them?” This is a defeatist attitude that goes against everything we’ve been taught our entire lives. Nothing truly ever “is what it is”; things are the way they are because people allow them to be that way. It’s sort of the opposite of “at the end of the day.” While “at the end of the day” tends to come from someone in a supervisory position and is directed at an employee, “it is what it is” is usually a colleague-to-colleague statement lamenting the current situation they both find themselves in. Don’t ever let yourself be so downtrodden that you truly believe you can’t make a difference.
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