Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cliches to Live By

As a writing teacher, I know all about cliches and how horrible they are.  Maybe.  Sometimes what we call cliches mask truths.  Here are some I like to quote.

The elephant in the room.  This is my signature phrase.  I like to get people to talk about the elephant in the room, the obvious issues that everyone is dancing around, the source of the problem they don’t want to admit to.  But it’s not always pretty.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  This can be care about them, the situation, or the subject.  Enthusiasm covers a multitude of problems.

To the man with a hammer, every problem is a nail.  This is so true of academia, where a writer, scholar, or “expert” has a theory that all problems must fit into.  As a colleague says, people are people, not theories.  I know that Lewin said, there is nothing so practical as a good theory, but he didn’t say, there is nothing so practical as a theory.  The qualifier “good” makes all the difference, and I’m not sure we understand what a theory is or what a good one is, either.

Jump in, folks—what are some cliches that work for you?

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