Business English Quick Tips: clichés

Business English Quick Tips

Quick tips to help you write better for business

If you need to write for your job or business in English, these quick tips will help you succeed…

What is a cliché? According to, “a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox.

In business, especially, numerous clichés have become famous in their own right, for being clichés. For example…

  • At this moment in time
  • Getting all your ducks in a row
  • Thinking outside the box
  • Win-win situation
  • Paradigm shift
  • Low-hanging fruit
  • Push the envelope
  • Value-added proposition
  • Core competency
  • Spending more time with my family
  • At the end of the day….
  • Let’s hit the ground running.
  • The bottom line
  • Has legs and can go really far…
  • I don’t have the bandwidth
  • Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater
  • Raise the bar
  • The elephant in the room (or the corner)
  • Too many chiefs and not enough Indians
  • Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes
  • Ticks all the boxes

Many old clichés and those that have replaced them are useful smokescreens behind which people can hide for a while until they work out what it is they really want to say. They are the “comfort food” of business communication, propping up writers and speakers whose messages usually aren’t strong enough to stand up by themselves.

Yet it’s very easy to fall back on these clichés – they’re convenient “fillers” for times when we’re not clear in our minds about what to write. People who do manage to avoid using them stand out as individuals with personality and confidence – and I don’t know about you, but that’s how I like to be perceived.

Furthermore, these clichés – though they are colorful and enigmatic when first introduced – actually become very tedious once they have been around for a while. I leave it to your imagination to come up with equally clever metaphors, but in the meantime let’s do ourselves a favor and redefine what these clever clichés actually mean…

For a really useful 200-page guide to business writing in English, check out “Business Writing Made Easy” – you’ll find it very, very helpful! Click here

And for something a bit different, try the exercises associated with this article in my “30 Day Business Writing Challenge” – Click here

More in a few days … and if you have any questions about business writing in English please add them here in the comments section; I will try to answer them as well as I can!





  1. […] is a close relative of clichés and acronyms but is sometimes more difficult to avoid, especially when you’re writing to a […]