My 2 Cents: Moving Forward, Let’s Not Think Outside The Box

Originally published: 03.01.13 by Terry Tanker


If the phrases we use in business relations were currency, we’d have a glut of fake $100 bills. They seem valuable and genuine, but their real worth is zero. 

These phrases move through the business world like a flu virus, and the growing prominence of social media and SEO-driven marketing seems to have made things worse. Everyone wants to help you  “optimize your value” and also, “engage your customers”. Perhaps this is because no one wants to make a real commitment as to what they’ll actually deliver for your dollars. 

I might not be the “sharpest pencil in the box”, but I propose a “scalable paradigm shift”: Let’s stop using these tired phrases and start having genuine conversations. Do you talk to your kids this way? Your best friend? Your spouse? I hope not because if you do, I guarantee they are laughing behind your back — and they should. Your coworkers and customers deserve respect. Say what you mean. Be precise, clear, and genuine. They want to hear your unique perspective or they wouldn’t be talking to you.

The danger of these types of phrases is that they convey to your listener that you haven’t given their situation enough thought to even use your own words. You’re using one-size-fits-all words. It’s like giving your spouse the same anniversary card year after year even though no two years together are the same — unless you aren’t paying attention. Then, they do all seem the same, and that’s my point. 

I realize this can be a hard habit to break. I suggest you try this: When someone is explaining a problem, their feelings, their ideas, or their dreams, listen. Then, try to explain your understanding of what they said back to them in your own way. Not only will this ensure a successful exchange of information has taken place, but people will feel that you really listened and understand them.

It’s interesting to watch how technology changes us especially in our 24/7 world of news. Have you observed how similar the news cycles are? I swear they all use the same producers/writers. It’s the exact same stories with different news anchors. I think this is what’s happening with this proliferation of meaningless “mumbo jumbo”. Someone, somewhere has their 15 minutes of fame and we don’t want to seem out of touch, so we pick up on what we’ve just heard others saying and almost immediately we’re all saying and doing the same things. But just because other people are using these phrases doesn’t mean you should be. Be different. Be original. After all, a successful business provides something that no other business is providing. Why would you want to be like everyone else?

To help drive my point home, our 20 Questions interview this month is with Mr. Cliché. I hope you find it entertaining, and have a laugh or two.  



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