What are the most annoying platitudes?

Sometimes when people are trying to be helpful, all they can think to say is a platitude. Often this has the effect of making people feel worse, not better. Here’s a list of the most annoying platitudes people say. 

It’s true that technically some of these are cliches, others are aphorisms, but they’re all used for similar reasons and can be equally irritating. It’s interesting to note how many of them conflict with each other.

  • There’s no I in Team (what about healthy teams that appreciate constructive individuality?)
  • Good things come to those who wait
  • It was meant to be (then why did we bother trying to make it not be?)
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results (sometimes you have to do the same exact thing many times to get the result you want – it’s called practice)
  • Time heals all wounds (how about losing a limb?)
  • Such is life
  • Forgive and forget
  • Everything happens for a reason (including suffering and early death?)
  • People are our most important asset
  • It is what it is
  • What the mind can conceive, it can achieve
  • Winners never quit
  • What doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger
  • I don’t want a team of champions, I want a champion team. (Note that there is an I in “champion team”)
  • Teamwork to make the Dream work
  • “C’est la vie”
  • Hard work always pays off
  • God has a plan for you
  • Great minds think alike
  • Money can’t buy happiness
  • Live each moment like it’s your last (not very pleasant)
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try try again (maybe you should try elsewhere)
  • Follow your passion
  • Follow your bliss (what if mine is cocaine?)
  • That’s just my personal opinion
  • Let’s not reinvent the wheel
  • It’s not rocket science
  • It’s all good
  • What goes up, goes down
  • After the storm the sun will shine
  • Don’t assume – it makes an ASS out of U and ME
  • Don’t be sad because it’s over, be glad that it happened
  • Love means never having to say you’re sorry (Then please don’t love me)
  • We are where we are
  • What goes around comes around
  • What’s done is done
  • Waste not want not
  • It has to be somewhere (as if this helps you find something that’s lost)
  • Nice guys finish last
  • Go with the flow
  • Only dead fish go with the flow
  • No offense, but…
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day
  • Work smarter, not harder
  • There’s no I in team
  • Life doesn’t give you things you can’t handle (depends on what life gives you, doesn’t it?)
  • You’re as young as you feel
  • Age is just a number
  • It’s just software
  • We’re all in this together
  • Everything always works out in the end
  • Time heals all wounds
  • We’ll all be laughing about this soon
  • It’s doesn’t matter if you win or lose, only that you try
  • Tomorrow is another day
  • It could be worse
  • You are what you eat
  • It’s neither here nor there
  • Think outside the box
  • It will all look better in the morning
  • Take the lemons and make lemonade
  • The best things in life are free
  • It wasn’t meant to be
  • Better to have loved and lost…
  • That’s for me to know and you to find out
  • Better late than never
  • With all due respect
  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions (so I should have bad intentions then? is that how the road to heaven is paved?)
  • Gossip is the devil’s radio
  • Laugh and the world laughs with you
  • People regret the things they didn’t do
  • Beauty is only skin deep
  • You can’t judge a book by it’s cover
  • Work hard, play hard
  • Only the good die young
  • All’s fair in love and war
  • All men are created equal
  • There are plenty more fish in the sea
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same
  • It’s the darkest just before dawn (have you seen a dawn?)
  • Fail harder
  • Perception is reality (except when your perception is very bad)
  • you can be anything that you want to be
  • Patience is a virtue
  • I’m sorry that’s not what you want to hear
  • This will hurt me more than it hurts you (well lets switch places and find out)
  • The customer is always right
  • If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen (maybe we can make the kitchen better?)
  • Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm
  • Be careful what you wish for
  • With great power comes great responsibility
  • Just think about how much worse other people have it
  • God never gives us more than we can bear (see death, misery, history of suffering)

What comes to mind? Leave a comment (240+ already have below). Thanks.

423 Responses to “What are the most annoying platitudes?”

  1. Feier Lai

    I don’t actually mind platitudes when it’s meant to show that the person cares enough to comment at all but just might not know exactly what to say. So it’s more about how they deliver it. The specific words they say doesn’t really matter if there is sincere feeling behind how they’re saying them. In addition, if someone truly believe time heals all wounds and that’s been their experience in life and they’re trying to relate to me with that, fine. If I disagree with the platitude, maybe I’ll point it out and we can have a discussion about it.

    On another note, doesn’t the intense annoyance towards platitudes also say something? That we are all self-important enough to feel like we deserve unique insightful comments from everyone in our lives when they’ve all got so many things to deal with outside of us. Sometimes people care but they don’t have the energy (or intellect) to dig into our souls and psyche and wrack their brains for the perfect quip. It’s nice when the occasional person is able to do that, but I hardly think we’re entitled to it all the time. It’s a gift when people genuinely care, not a given (ha, I can see that becoming a platitude too).

    That said, I can also see why receiving platitudes can feel annoying if all you hear is empty promises.

    Reply
    1. Wink Knudge

      That’s a good point, one can easily deride all the verbal concoctions developed over time and oft used by the masses, but maybe an example of a new alternative variant of a turn of phrase could be offered to demonstrate the superior ability for a unique response in those situations. If the foo shitz, wear it-

      Reply
    2. John Farrell

      Well said….

      Reply
    3. SR3MYH

      There is nothing wrong with platitudes providing they are used with genuine care, but to often they are used by people that think they need to say something but have nothing genuine to say.

      Reply
    4. Sally

      I agree. I also think that a lot of these aren’t platitudes when taken in the right context…like “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”…I never got that one…and it’s the big, famous line from Love Story…like you loved him/her that much…so much that you don’t have to say you’re sorry because he/she just knows that you are because he/she loves you so much…give me a break…ANY relationship will NOT last if you don’t say you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong that’s hurt the relationship! End of that ‘story’ :-)

      Reply
    5. Bob

      Going along with the previous comment.
      One of the worst I hear people say is, “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”

      Reply
      1. Kate

        Most people mean it when they ask if there is anything they can do to help, but people are too proud to ask for help, or they don’t want to bother people. It is better to meet a need if you see it, but not everyone is good at seeing which need would make a difference in someone’s life.

        What I find most sad about this article is that quite a few of the “platitudes” mentioned are actually Biblical truths and the writer calls them overused, simplified phrases. They may not mean anything to an unrepentant sinner, but the peace and rest a Christian has because they have learned to wait on, and trust God is very real.

        Reply
    6. rad365

      You missed “Lessons will be learned”

      Reply
    7. Arianna

      I f the next thing you’re gonna do is love me ; I am going to know it (As if we all know everyone s brand of Love)

      Reply
  2. Max

    Two that always make me grit my teeth:
    “Live, laugh, love.”
    “Another day in Paradise.”

    Reply
  3. Teresa

    Here’s one I really hate that is being over used at the moment and that is ‘creating memories’. When I choose to do something fun I don’t think of the memories in the future I think of having a good time in that moment. Besides your memories are coloured by your moods and perception of them changes constantly.

    Reply
    1. Brad

      That one makes me want to reply “yeah, we all are…literally every minute of every day”.

      Reply
    2. Teresa

      What if you have a bad memory. Then you wouldn’t be able to create good memories but simply have fun in the moment. This is all about society’s pressure not to be in the present but store up things for the future whether it be money, skills, work experience or good memories. I’ve learned more and more to live in the present and pay less attention to the future as you never know what is going to happen in the future.

      Reply
  4. Bradly

    I find nothing wrong …

    Reply
  5. Mary

    “No Smoke Without Fire” – So False Accusations have a basis in fact

    Reply
  6. Bruce

    Just read all the crap people write in yearbooks

    Reply
  7. Sandy

    If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

    Reply
  8. Robert Gween

    Don’t be that sad, others have it much more worse.
    No one ever says:
    Don’t be that happy, others are much more happier.

    Reply
  9. El Cooper

    Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

    Reply
    1. Teresa

      I hate that one too. It’s more like 50% of what happens to you and 50% of how you react to it. We’re not exactly spoilt for choice in how we react to things as there is often a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation. Somebody said at church that I had only got into bad situations and got depressed and sick because of choices I had made. Yeah, I could have made other choices. Even worse ones.

      Reply
  10. Ed

    That said, …..
    Having said that….
    With all that being said….

    Reply
  11. Fran Johnson

    I broke my arm in 2 places from a fall. So far I’ve heard:
    At least it wasn’t your hip.
    This is an opportunity for your husband to step up (he has enough to do, thank u very much)
    This too will pass (an oldie but goodie)
    and my favorite….it could be worse….it has…now i’ve bursitis in the other arm.
    all from the same person!! can u say insensitive?

    Reply
  12. Rosalind Alexander Popov

    When my parents passed away in their 90’s, I was devastated; however, I was inundated with, “Well, s/he lived a long, full life.” It was all I could do to appear gracious, for I felt like screaming, “But I never got enough of them!” I hoped I would NEVER have another human being come at me with: “S/he lived a long, full life.” Neither of my parents were “ready to go,” but both of them enjoyed having life immensely. No, my father and mother, nor I, thought their lives had been long enough.

    Reply
  13. Camilla Loveridge

    This platitude is particularly annoying… when someone wants to get out of a responsibility and asks you “are you sure?”

    Reply
  14. Shane Montane

    Thoughts and prayers.

    Reply
  15. JC

    Please don’t take offense, but…. I don’t think you should have been so hard on people using platitudes. ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’, as my Gran used to say. Oh well, I guess there’s no point in worrying about spilt milk, or trying to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted. That’s just my opinion, anyway.

    Reply
    1. Nameless

      I love how you try to defend platitudes by using a platitude. Guess what? People can say what they want, you can say what you want, I can say what I want, and it’s a perpetual cycle. So get that “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” horseshit out of here.

      Reply
      1. Teresa

        And they are often the same people who say that they never sugar coat what they say and that people should take them as they find them.

        Reply
      2. Teresa

        I confronted a fellow volunteer about her attitudes and how she had taken over the garden project by coming between the manager and the other volunteers and getting herself onto committees before the rest of us had a chance to reply and she said “if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all”. I responded with “then that applies to you as well”. I left the project because of her. She had only started volunteering a few months previously later than most of us and wasn’t pulling her weight as she loved to busy herself making a play area for her children to play in and re-arranging the deck chairs while the rest of us were building a rabbit proof fence.

        Reply
    2. Anonymous

      When I read this I literally laughed out loud. Nameless really doesn’t understand irony, do they?

      Reply
  16. E Hardy

    He said “let there be light and there was light”

    Reply
  17. Samantha

    I loooveee most of these phrases!!! :)

    Reply
  18. Chris

    – I know how you feel (No you don’t)

    – I understand (No you don’t)

    – Just try to do you best (So… set the bar as high as it goes!! How does that reduce the pressure I’m putting on myself?!)

    – Hang in there (I once said this to someone who was depressed and he said to me later, “Don’t ever say that to someone who is suicidal!”)

    Reply
  19. Teresa

    Platitudes aren’t so bad when used now and then or haven’t been used for a long time but not when over used and especially by the same person as a ‘panacea’ or explanation for everything. Imagine hearing “there aren’t so queer as folk” or “no point in crying over spilt milk” over and over again ad nauseum. We need comebacks for these.

    Reply
  20. Tracey

    Sports are a platitude mecca….. “We really need to bring our A game today” (as apposed to be B, C, D or F game you’ve been bringing?) Doesn’t everyone always bring their A game? Not many admit to planning to be sub-par. “I’m just going to half-ass it today” might make people turn off the tv.

    Reply
  21. Scott Berkun

    A fact about proverbs that greatly enhances their quotability is that they almost always occur in mutually contradictory pairs. “Look before you leap!”-but “He who hesitates is lost.”

    -Herbert Simon

    Reply

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