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The wisdom behind workplace clichés

Workplace clichés or platitudes can add insult to injury when they are meant to brush over real office issues that need to be solved. However, many of these sayings can still be mined for value. If you dissect some of these common workplace clichés, you can gather genuine insight into how to be a better professional.


The wisdom behind 7 common workplace clichés

1. “The early bird catches the worm”

It doesn’t matter when your workday starts – you need to be there on time, with enough time beforehand to prepare to work. That usually means showing up 5-15 minutes early in order to get yourself settled for the day. Showing up early or on time reflects a professional attitude. So be the early bird and you’ll get “the worm” – the respect of your boss and colleagues.


2. “Dress to impress”

Don’t underestimate the power of image. It’s a shallow world we all live in – one where your appearance and first impressions matter. If someone sees you and thinks that you look professional, they are primed to see you in a more professional light. When you speak in a professional manner, this view of you will be reinforced. On the flip side, if you’re looking messy and poorly groomed, it will be harder to prove your professionalism and competence.


common workplace clichés


3. “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team'”

Even freelancers and consultants have to work with others at some point. There is no job that truly doesn’t require some aspect of teamwork. That’s why it’s important to be a compassionate and considerate worker and to keep communication lines open with the people you work with.


4. “Work smarter, not harder”

This is among the most overused work clichés out there – probably because the grain of truth behind it is actually really good advice. Improving your efficiency in the office will cause more output without increasing input. Who doesn’t want to get more done at the end of their work day while putting in the same amount of effort? This, of course, is easier said than done and often requires support from management. That being said, take some time to think about your job and how you may be wasting time or energy. If there are any improvements that you can make, why not make your day more productive?


5. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”

Big projects take a lot of time, energy and patience. During massive professional undertakings, it can sometimes feel that you take one step forward and two steps back. Systemic changes or big overhauls are like that for every company, so try not to feel discouraged. Instead, focus on small advancements and the small steps forward that you can control.


common workplace clichés


6. “Good things come to those who wait”

This one goes right alongside “patience is a virtue”. And it’s true. A lot of the things that we love in life – vacations, friendships, promotions – all require some patience. When you’re feeling anxious and want to rush something big, take into consideration all of the wonderful things currently in your life. Remember that we’ve all only got so much time on this earth, why would you want to rush it along instead of savoring the moment?


7. “Tomorrow is another day”

It may seem pretty obvious, but time does march forward and with every sunrise, we have the potential to make new, positive decisions even if the day, week or month before we acted differently. To a certain extent we don’t get a complete “reset” every day of our lives, the relationships and reputation that we build over the years do matter. But when a day goes poorly, it’s comforting to know that tomorrow will come soon. Dwelling on the past does nobody any good.


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Photo 1. based on thought, by Henadz, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on Team Finnmark, by Finnmark fylkeskommune, CC-by-ND 2.0

Photo 3. based on waiting…, by Stephanus Riosetiawan, CC-by-SA 2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!