I recently surveyed my friends/family asking what they found to be the most annoying, cliche advice. These were the most common.
Cliché: “Forget about the past; what’s done is done.”
Advisor: Strong, apathetic, guarded
Although its wise to avoid dwelling on what went wrong, its nothing you can immediately do. Everyone needs a moment to recover- whether its doing poorly on a test or losing your best friend. Without time for reflection, you can’t possibly learn from the situation itself. Even a stone can be worn down with enough rain. Everyone reaches a point of unignorable adversity.
Cliché: “Everything happens for a reason.”
Advisor: Introspective, religious, philosophical, etc.
I’m definitely guilty of conveying this message. This is bad advice because it isn’t advice at all. You can’t use this concept to help you get past your present. The major flaw in this is a double standard. The tiny bit of comfort you may find in a “reason” for everything is outweighed by the 50% chance that the reason may just be something worse.
Cliché: “Everything will work out in the end”
Most people are irritated by optimism during a rough patch. Its “hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel” when it feels like there is no end. And honestly, does it always work out? Not really. I guess this cliche provides hope but according to half of my friends, no one wants to hear it.
Cliché: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Users: Moralist perhaps? Not sure.
No author should neglect to provide an intriguing cover for their book. As readers, we have every right to judge books based on their cover. Why would you spend months writing and then undermine it with a mediocre wrapping? Parallel a book with how we physically present ourselves. Obviously I don’t support being superficial but what’s there not to judge against someone who never maintains hygiene, dresses appropriately or carry themselves suitably?
Cliché: “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”
Advisor: Your wing man/wing woman
Wow, thanks, because I wasn’t aware of the other 6 billion people living on our planet. Knowing there are plenty of fish in the sea is exactly what drives us to look for a shark. And sometimes this one is paired with “you’re too picky”. I think its good to know what you want and not settle till you find it.
Cliché: “Nice guys finish last.”
Users: The “Boo hoo, woe is me, f my life, and cry me a river” type.
Get a grip. First off, beware of self-proclaimed “nice guys” or “nice girls”. Nice people aren’t the way they are for recognition. And second, if you feel you’re “always screwed over”, notice that you’re the only common denominator in every factor. If all nice people really did finish last (whatever that may mean) then they are nice AND stupid. I know plenty of nice people that aren’t push overs and get through life just fine.
. . .
When we feel helpless and want to provide more than “a shoulder to lean on”, we turn to these trite phrases that everyone could live without. Replacement for cliches? Listen. Sometimes people really just need to talk/vent. Feeding people overused, meaningless cliches just irritate them. It only makes sense to give people advice if you actually have any. And if you’ve been in their exact situation before, tell them what really helped you because just forgetting or waiting it out wasn’t it.