Some Clichés are So Bad They Should Never be Used
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As an advisor, your most valuable trait is sincerity. But most of us don’t understand how sensitive our radar is for picking up insincerity. In a study on sincerity, researchers played recorded responses to questions like, “What do you think of my new hairdo?” Some of the responses reflected the honest views, whereas others had the responder reading from a script. Listeners were generally able to distinguish sincere responses from insincere ones.
Benefits of sincerity
Another study found clients who viewed their real estate agent as being sincere (via body language, voice tone and facial expressions) were much more likely to feel satisfied with the service provided than those who dealt with agents they perceived as insincere.
Yet another study found that in order for pharmacists to succeed, it wasn’t enough to provide high-quality service (though that’s critical in a field where one mistake could lead to someone’s death). It was in developing that sense of trust with their customers through conveying sincerity that led to long-term sustainable success.
Edward C. Bursk, formerly the editor of the Harvard Business Review, observed, “Sincerity is at the very crux of low pressure selling.”
Clichés convey insincerity
Given the undeniable benefit of being sincere, it’s surprising how often we retreat to the use of clichés, which denote a lack of genuineness. Using these phrases demonstrates laziness and very little thought.
A cliché is an overused phrase. One useful way to identify a cliché is, if you hear the first part of the phrase, you can easily complete it. For example, if someone says, “I hope you are…,” you will know the next word is “well.”
Here are some common examples:
I hope you are well
Nothing is less sincere than expressing concern for the health of those you don’t know. How often do marketers start their pitch with this phrase? It screams “insincerity.”
Only refer to the health of those you know. Even then your concern should be sincere, thoughtful, and personalized; not perfunctory. Instead of, “I hope you are well,”consider, “I know you have had some health challenges this year. I hope you are overcoming them and will soon be back on the golf course.”
All the best for the New Year
Sending your best wishes for the coming year doesn’t have to come across as formulaic. Instead of this common cliché, try something like: “I know you and Bill have some exciting travel planned for next year and also have started some challenging initiatives in your business. Please keep me posted on how everything turns out.”
Another danger of using this formulaic phrase is that ignores the possibility of events in that person’s life that make it unlikely the New Year will be “best” for them. What if they suffered the loss of a loved one or just filed for bankruptcy?
Some clichés are so bad they should never be used.
With all due respect
I cringe whenever someone starts a sentence with this phrase. They might as well be saying, “I’m about to show you no respect.” The phrase is inevitably followed by vigorous disagreement. I’m fine with contrary views. Just don’t pretend you’re being respectful when you’re not.
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To be honest (or honestly)
This cliché implies it’s your habit to be dishonest, but now you’re going to be candid.
To be fair
So, your other statements were unfair?
You can find a comprehensive list of business clichés to avoid in this article.
There’s another reason to avoid clichés. They reflect bad writing, laziness and distract from your core message.
Finally, avoid clichés and overstatements when you speak. How many times have you asked someone how they are and they respond “fantastic?” When I hear that, I think: “Really? Your family life is perfect? Your business is booming? All your relationships are deep and meaningful? You’re not concerned about anything?”
It reeks of insincerity.
I genuinely wish you a cliché-free New Year.
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