Avoiding Clichés like the Plague

During a radio broadcast I heard a politician say that “…at the end of the day we need a level playing field.” This got me to thinking that there are no two ways about it, we have become a “cliché society”. Although I do realise that in this day and age communication is king and that it is par for the course that those in positions where communication is their business, with the varying levels of education of their audience, they need to aim for the lowest common denominator but I think we need to address this issue now before using a cliché becomes the path of least resistance.

When I was a youngster, we were taught to “avoid clichés like the plague” but it seemed that with the arrival of the “it’s what you say, not how you say it” school of communication, that to all intents and purposes, the cliché has become the meat and drink of the communicator and I’m sure that someone will inform me that the use of the cliché means that you get the best of both worlds because you can get your message across in an easily understandable way. But we do need to know how to say something because the fact of the matter is, if we can’t communicate effectively nobody will understand what it is we have to say and when all is said and done surely that’s what communicating is all about.

I know that I’m likely to ruffle some feathers with my views on the use of clichés but I do believe we need to get back to square one because I think that there is more to this than meets the eye. Again, I do realise that I have my work cut out and that many of you have bigger fish to fry than rocking the boat worrying about clichés sticking out like a sore thumb. But the fact of the matter is that we need to roll out new initiatives that will allow us to go forward to teach our offspring effective communication.

Now, this doesn’t just mean verbally, oh no, I’m taking about written work too. The bottom line is that time and time again I see work written, not just by students and workers but management too, that is just not fit for purpose. How am I supposed to understand what my boss/client/colleague is asking of me when all and sundry are using clichés? Far be it from me, in the current climate and go against the grain to badger people into changing the habits of a lifetime but please think in terms of clarity and prioritise getting back on track to when clichés in communications were few and far between.

The time has come for communicators of all kinds to set their stall out with a raft of new proposals to eliminate the overuse of cliches in our everyday communications. Maybe we need to think outside the box at this moment in time but lessons must be learned from the past – and present – that lessening the use of clichés in communication will just what the doctor ordered. After all, it’s not rocket science.

Published in: on Thursday, September 10th, 2009 at 10:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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