Want people to listen? Avoid these 3 clichés!

Blog Feb STOP 2.2.18Have you ever been in a meeting and thought, “What the heck is that person talking about?” Me too. This usually occurs when I hear one of the following clichés.

  1. Let’s Take It To The Next Level — What exactly is the next level? At a branding workshop I recently conducted, one of the participants was a guy who owns the largest antique dealership in the state. After the conclusion of the workshop, he approached me and said, “I need to take my business to the next level. What do you suggest?”

I was stumped. What the heck is the next level for the largest antique dealership in the state? I asked if he wanted to expand geographically. Nope. I asked if he wanted to expand his business offering to include interior designer services. Nada. I asked if he wanted to expand his social media presence, to which he replied “I don’t think businesses should use social media.” Arrgh!

I asked what he wanted to achieve by taking it to the next level. “To make more money,” was his response.

I indicated that branding, content marketing and social media were my areas of expertise and I wouldn’t be able to assist him in his quest to reach the next level. “Why would you turn away business?” he asked with surprise. Really?

Just stop using this phrase and ask for what you really want.

  1. Let’s Eat The Elephant One Bite At A Time — Eww! I don’t want to eat an elephant one bite at a time or at all. I get that this phrase means to break a large task into smaller ones. But, whenever I hear this phrase, my mind conjures up disturbing images of people in a jungle somewhere sitting around a dead elephant . . . they all have forks. Then, my mind starts to wander. Who killed the elephant? How was it killed? How did these people get forks?

By this time, I’m not listening to the speaker. The meeting ends, everyone gets up to accomplish their “bite” of the task. I go to the ladies room to splash cold water on my face in an attempt to stop thinking about dead elephants.

How about we just stop using this phrase? 

  1. I Need To Marinate This Idea — What? Am I in the right place? I thought this was a meeting, not a cooking class. I look around and notice no one is wearing an apron. Whew . . . I am in a meeting.

People use this phrase to indicate that they’d like to think about an idea privately before discussing it further with others. I get it. But, “marinate?” I marinate steak before I grill it. I marinate chicken before I sauté it. Sometimes I marinate vegetables before I grill kabobs. And, it’s OK if other people are in the kitchen when I’m marinating. This cooking technique does not require solitude.

How about we stop using this phrase? In fact, let’s just stop using cooking phrases in business meetings . . . unless, of course, it’s a meeting about cooking. No more “noodle it around,” “stew about it,” or “boil the ocean.”

Say What You Mean! — Many clichés were once a fresh, creative way of expressing a popular thought or common idea. But because of excessive use, these phrases have lost their originality, impact, and even meaning.

Published by

Fran Lytle

Behaviorist, Brand Strategist and Co-founder of Brand Champs. Using social science, Fran helps brands engage people through branding, digital communication, content marketing and social media marketing initiatives.