Clichés: What You Lose Out On By Not Considering These Possible Words of Wisdom

Leadership Lesson: Be sure to think past the words of advice, and consider who’s providing them, what the context is, and the lessons being conveyed in them, before you dismiss them as cliché.

Do you know what’s best for you?

Do you know how to utilize the tools around you, both those you have to seek and those already provided to you?

For instance, when someone gives you something that sounds like advice, how do you take it in, and how do you utilize it?

Do you take it all into consideration? Do you only take certain pieces and reconcile them to your experience? Or do you dismiss advice entirely because it might sound too standard, cookie-cutter, and cliché?

Related: How Do You Break Down Advice To Determine How It Applies To You?

A cliché is defined as “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” On its face, yes, phrases reused and heard repeatedly as standard bits of information or responses should be dismissed as too repetitive. Like anything else, the more something is used or is abundant, the less value it carries.

But the difference here is that although the words may ”be overused,” seemingly demonstrating “a lack of original thought,” the adviser who provides them may have a different spin on the words. The provider of the advice can attach and share their own meaning to the words, based in their own experiences, whether those were successes or failures. They can translate the words and provide others with options of what the words may mean through the lens of their real-life examples.

That’s where the power and value of the advice exists — not in the words, but in the experience-based value those words hold in the mind of the provider.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the sharing of advice, whether you’re providing or receiving the value:

Does the provider go beyond what the words shared express?

There should be a self-awareness by the advisor of how something might come across as a cliché, or a standard script of words, even if the situation at hand truly does seem to call for the underlying message of the advice. They should recognize what little value the words alone may have, due to their typical overuse. Beyond the words, context should be provided, stories told, or examples given of how his or her own life and experiences are reflected in those words and their meaning.

If the speaker doesn’t go beyond the words, to provide that background…

Do you ask them to go beyond what the words say?

Like any other instance of advising, mentoring, or coaching, there’s nothing wrong with asking clarifying questions back to the person who is trying to help you. If someone has a tinge of doubt or questions in his or her mind, those questions are fair game for the asking because reaching the best value should be the goal for everyone involved, whether one is providing the advice or taking it in.

It’s on the listener to prod with some questions, seeking those examples from that person’s background which have lead the provider to believe the advice they’re sharing is the best contribution they can make to assist another person’s development, growth, or recovery.

Have you been the adviser?

In instances when you’ve provided information to someone else, have you done the words justice and followed up to explain their value? Have you provided examples from your own life or the life of others?

The best way we can all learn is by picturing advice – a type of lesson — in action.  And remember: you can learn just as much about yourself by teaching or sharing a lesson with someone else as you can in taking the lesson in yourself?

There is a certain level of accountability held here for the provider of the advice. There’s no time for acts or façade; there needs to be deeper meaning provided in how we interact with each other. If we keep forgoing the true value of people’s experience, it only adds to the growing list of resources that remain untapped and left on the table, unutilized.

This applies to leadership because of the impact and influence we can have on others through our actions, advice, and experiences. 

If relevant and appropriate (and welcomed), share what you’ve learned in life and work when it is closely reminiscent of a tough experience someone’s going through or an area of improvement someone wants to tackle.

And pay attention to what it is you yourself get in terms of advice. This means vet it, so that you make sure you’re neither utilizing something that may set you back nor dismissing something that could benefit you.

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