(This is Part 9 in the Communicator’s University series. You can read Part 8 here.)
Okie-dokie. I have an annoying surveillance habit when it comes to observing other peoples’ communication. I notice redundancies and common platitudes which cause me to say, “I wish they had been a little more creative than that.” (Notice that I do not notice my own redundancies and common platitudes–only other peoples’. Duh.) I honestly try to avoid the easy, predictable platitudes, and I think that, in general, we communicate with greater confidence if we avoid them.
Here’s a partial sampling of my list:
- The weather report. Anything about the weather, unless it has to do with cataclysmic horror we have recently experienced. (If the cataclysmic horror is occurring at the time of your delivery you should say, “Let’s all head to the basement!”) Do not say start by saying, “Good to see you on this (fill in the blank with hot, cold, snowy, beautiful, rainy, humid, hail-driven) day.”
- Any version of “How you guys doin’?”. This can include “How y’all doin?” “How’s everybody doin’? today?” “Good to see you all”. I know I’m in the minority, but I rarely answer the “How you guys doin’?” question, especially in a public group forum.
- “At the end of the day.” Overused. At the end of the day we’ll do better to not use it at all.
- “I don’t know about you, but I…”. Just say, “I…”.
- “To make a long story short…” When people say that I want to shout, “Too late!”
- “How ’bout dem (fill in local sports team favorites…Packers, Cubs, Manchester Uniteds”….? Go ahead and some fun with your local sports interest, but don’t make that the first thing out of your mouth.
- “I’m not saying _______, I’m just saying __________”. See my blog about Unsolicited Denials for a further explanation. For example, “I’m ranting, I’m just trying to help you communicate better”. Huh? Too many words, and you’re I’m unnecessarily and suspiciously introducing a topic. We respect communicators more if they don’t regularly use Unsolicited Denials.
- “There’s nothing better than _______”. Well, most of the time I can come up with something that’s better than whatever it is you said. “There’s nothing better than a nice , cold glass of milk.” Oh, really?
Don’t get caught up on my list, but pay attention to my central concern. Avoid platitudes by putting in the hard work of original, clear, and less predictable ways to say things.