What are the most annoying platitudes?

There are things people say when they’re trying to help but because they use a platitude it only make you feel worse. Here’s a list of the most annoying platitudes people say. What phrases and sayings do you hear in that only make you feel worse despite the person’s intentions? Or sayings that are patently false, despite the encouraging tone they are often said with.

The one platitude that applies to most of these platitudes is that talk is cheap. Sincerity requires more than simply lifting something from a greeting card. Some of these are cliches, others are aphorisms, it’s true, but they’re all used for similar reasons and can be equally irritating. It’s also interesting to note how many of them conflict with each other.

Here’s a list from the comments so far:

  • 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.

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

  1. Allan

    “You reap what you sow” . . no you don’t, it’s all random, how many times have we actually seen bad people succeed, or good people who are kind and generous have terrible things happen to them?
    “What goes around comes around.” Um, no it doesn’t, and if it does it’s strictly by chance…. see my previous comment.
    Actually, although it’s probably a ‘platitude’ and some may find it annoying, I have learned that what IS often true is that no good deed goes unpunished…. over and over I have been helpful & kind to people who in the end abandoned me when I needed help.

    • Michelle

      “You made this bed now you have to sleep in it.”

      That may be a bit off- Either way its banal and I wish to never hear it again.

    • Craig

      Sounds like you ought to grow a spinal column and see people’s motives for what they are. The only time you can rely on people to help is when they’re going long on some kind of payoff. The only people who do things out of the “goodness of their hearts” are people with Downs Syndrome.

    • William

      Some respond to the negative, but not the positive. Cliché, Platitude, whatever. Hearing the well worn Platitude gets annoying, but that has no bearing on it being right or wrong.
      “What goes around comes around,Um, no it doesn’t”
      ” I have learned that what IS often true is that no good deed goes unpunished”
      They are essentially the same statement, the former in a justice will prevail format. The latter in a justice will not prevail format.(in that regard the two statements are consistent)However,What goes around comes around.” Um, no it doesn’t, “and if it does it’s strictly by chance” This is where the commentators argument breaks down because his argument does not accredit any factor of chance affecting the statement “no good deed goes unpunished”(A cliché no less from Oscar Wilde ,not wise to use this when your arguing against platitudes ) Apparently the reason this negative view is correct and not a matter of chance is because the author has been let down many times himself whilst doing a good deed. Allan’s comments are fundamentally flawed because both statements could be true or false the cliché or platitude does not in itself provide proof either way.

      • Lauren Belle

        . . . You write like a bright young lawyer . How about we cite my twisted version of this verse in Proverbs : ” For the battle is not always to the mighty , nor the race to Taylor swift , but time and Chance happeneth to all men ” ?

        • Jeremy

          1. It’s a very twisted version indeed, since it actually occurs in Ecclesiastes. ;-)
          2. I didn’t realize Taylor Swift’s existence was prophesied in Ecclesiastes. Crazy!

    • Paul

      What we want are true platitudes like: All men are not created equal. – The road to heaven is not paved. – The best things in life are not free. – Reasons happen for everything. – Hard work buys experience. – Happiness cannot buy money.

  2. Suz

    It’s “fill in blank …eg. life , singing , spiritualism etc. a journey not a destination – ph blaaaah !

  3. Gabrielle Harlan

    Live and learn.

    Follow your bliss.

    • heinouscanis

      Perception certainly is reality, even with a bad perception, you still have a reality….a bad reality. Zing!

    • Matt Robin

      I’m giving a thumbs-up gesture (that isn’t yet articulated by an emoticon.)

    • Bren

      That’s NOT a platitude (annoying, or overused) – It’s TRUE
      and yes, he does LOVE you!

      • Joan

        That’s your belief. Note the word “belief”.

        Personally I consider it a platitude as well, and an -extremely- aggravating one at that.

      • Joseph

        Is that supposed to make me feel special? He seems to love everybody.

    • Nathaniel

      This is NOT a platitude. There is a God, Jesus Christ, and he does love you. He died for you, so that when we die on this earth, we will go to heaven with him. All you need to do, is believe this. Why not talk to a preacher or a christian. What do you have to lose?

      • Scott

        Nathaniel: You may notice of the 200+ comments people left you are the only one arguing about what is or isn’t a platitude. Therion thinks it is one, you think it isn’t. I got it. Both of your opinions have been heard. Can you move on please? Thank you.

      • Vicki Tait

        I would agree with you Nathaniel. The statement “Jesus loves you” is a fact. It is not a platitude. Jesus died upon the cross to save you and me. He took our sins past and future with him.

        • Laura kemp

          How is this a fact? Because it’s written in a book? So is goldilocks and the 3 bears but that doesn’t make it fact. I agree pointless and annoying platitude along with “god works in mysterious ways” and “he/she is in a better place now”

          • Vicki Tait

            Well Laura, I don’t know what to tell you about your unbelief except that I do not argue scripture and I totally believe that everything in the word of God is given by inspiration of God. Actually I didn’t even bring up about a “book” but just to let you know “Jesus loves you” and that is a fact. If you choose not to believe that is your prerogative.

        • James

          Religion doesn’t do facts. It is a work of fiction that is particularly attractive to those lacking in critical thinking.

          As for platitudes – “First things first” has got to be up there.

          • Vicki Tait

            I am sorry for your shallow thinking. Maybe one day you will understand. But not until you get over yourself.

          • Beowulf

            Actually James, you’re kind of right. People can just loll in the fact that there is Jesus and go on ranting about it but it sure doesn’t change anyone else’s perception, I mean, I wish Christians could be a little more logical and understanding about whom they’re talking with and show some more intelligence and respect. If you want to start preaching, do it like the apostle Paul. Aren’t we your brothers in Christ too? Are you imparting your knowledge to us out of love or out of… You know the rest. People don’t change overnight by some trivial Christian platitudes.

        • Dan

          You “believe” that Jesus exists and does indeed love you, other people don’t. You can’t prove it, they can’t prove it, therefore its not a fact but a belief.

          • Beowulf

            That’s right, James. Christianity isn’t a religion. …. if it’s viewed the right way….

          • Buck Field

            Actually, if any proposed entity is defined as having mutually exclusive characteristics, it can be proven not to exist courtesy of the law of non-contradiction.

            It is what enables us to prove there are no circular triangles, and no all just, all merciful deities.

      • Jill Foster

        He died being faithful to His Father’s Government! Nazarene means separate not a place like we assumed. Jesus loves you, is a platitude cause that love is in vein if we don’t love one another.
        Loving one another so we can survive separating from worldly governments.
        Being made to care for the widows orphans and needy in our society through taxation does not count. Makes us a hewned stone rather than an unhewned stone of which God required His Alter to be made of. The mortar board graduation cap confirms more bricks in the wall of the worldly government altar to you know who.

  4. DeeJayGee

    It’s God will…….

    • DeeJayGee

      Sorry, meant to say

      It’s God’s will

  5. Bradley Myers

    “Everything happens for a reason”

  6. Jim

    Dating site platitudes:

    watching a good movie/dvd
    love good wine
    looking for that special someone
    must have that cup of coffee
    walking on the beach

    • Dru

      Love ’em. I get so tired of dealing with dating site template personalities.

  7. Peter

    Buy Low ! Sell High !

  8. becky

    a platitude that really annoys me is “bloom where you’re planted” Offhand, it is so cheery and optimistic but has aggressive undertones, demanding that you be happy where ever you are. That comment, made to me, has stuck with me for years, annoying me. Moving to a new place because something about where you happen to be isn’t working seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do, rather than trying to fit a round peg in a square hole (another platitude!)

  9. mark

    He who wants others to write their book deserve nothing

    • was

      *He who wants others to write his book deserves nothing.

      –although it might be more idiomatic to include errors in a platitude.

      compare ‘If he or she desires that others write his or her story, then he or she is passive, andj passive people deserve nothing.’ with ‘them who depend on the earth can’t rely on it.’.

  10. Daniela

    “Have a nice day.”

  11. poppy dunlap

    “It’s never as bad as you think.”

    I am going through a really tough break-up right now and I have friend who offers up support like this.
    What do I say to her?

    • Mary

      Thanks, but it is that bad,

    • Graeme

      Tell her she’s right……………..it’s much worse!

  12. Spiro

    The lord works in mysterious ways.

  13. Mary

    This is a learning experience, said when bad things happen.

    • Vicki Tait

      Life IS a learning experience. If not, then how do we grow? How do we learn? Our failures and accomplishments are all a part of who we are today. There is none perfect but the Lord. We are given a choice and there is always I feel room for improvement. I love learning. Life is truly a learning experience!

  14. Mary

    You’re where you’re supposed to be, another annoying platitude when people don’t want to deal with you.

  15. Scott

    More here:

    there are two sides to every story
    just give it time, karma will balance things
    just ignore him and he will stop
    you just need to communicate clearly
    just ignore him and he will go away
    It takes two to argue
    turn the other cheek
    you’re just too sensitive
    trust in god, he’s got a plan
    practice makes perfect [added 8/15]

  16. treeboy

    “Looks don’t count”

    Really? They count for a tremendous amount… I don’t see too many ugly guys with good looking guys.

    “Money can’t buy happiness”

    Money buys EVERYTHING… Including love, peace of mine and in many cases, even health…

    “Everyone has one unit of worth”

    No they don’t… There will always be losers and there will always be winners…

    • Beowulf

      Wow. You sure are a Nihilist.

    • heinouscanis

      Whoever said looks don’t count was probably blind. Humans’ mental input is through sight. You can pile that one on top of “don’t judge by appearances”…fine, then eat that rotten piece of fruit, since one isn’t supposed to judge on looks. Stupid, stupid platitude.
      Money buys material things. It can’t buy a state of mind. You facilitate that for free. Common sense “buys” you health, for no system- governmental or otherwise can gamble on your health but you.
      That last one makes me think you work in middle management.

  17. RevEd666

    “It is what it is.” How useless.

  18. Laura kemp

    These things are sent to test us

  19. Lacey

    When someone says “Your time will come!” when someone they know mentions how they lost out on that job or role that they worked hard to prepare for.

  20. William

    Try never using a platitude , cliché, metaphor, simile, Idiom, or analogy? At an opportune moment they are very useful tools. However, if we set forth using the same old worn out cliché’s, platitudes and the like, then we can forgive the recipient their inevitable cringes. Like it or not these things are here to stay. An analogy like a platitude creates economy of thought and allows for a quick expression of views and dismisses the long protracted conversation. The recipient often hates the platitude because they had been expecting a greater consideration than you were prepared to give. Nevertheless, if you can be somewhat original in your platitude, good for you.

    • Donna

      “……….dismisses the long protracted conversation.” Also dismisses any long protracted thought process. Why not just use the simple but succinct, …”Boring!” Or perhaps the equally honest, “You and your issue aren’t important enough to give any real thought to.”

      • stevie

        Platitudes aside…never end a sentence with a preposition. “You and your issues aren’t important enough to give either any real thought.”

    • Graeme

      “Like it or not these things are here to stay.”
      Platitude? Metaphor? Simile? or just Cliche

  21. sue

    I hear what you are saying
    I am sorry you feel the way you do

    From someone who is not listening and has no idea what ypu are feeling

  22. Dee

    No Worries

    Im very worried I’ll have to hear that again and again. It is over used, mis used and the worrssssstttttt!!!!!!!!!

  23. maryB

    “Smile, it can’t be that bad” or “You look like you lost your best friend”. Two of the most insensitive things that I hear. Maybe I just did lose my best friend. And you don’t know how bad it really is. I was relating to a friend about a mess I was in, and he says “well, if you’re not happy now, you never will be.” what? are you an idiot? I can be happy again someday, especially once I fix the mess I’m in. it just shows no forethought at all when friends or strangers say such shallow things. if you can’t say something sincere AND helpful, just keep it shut, please.

  24. Donna

    The 1% ruins it for everyone else!!!!!! (And …. sooo????)

  25. Margaret Brown

    when the going gets tough, the tough get going
    Pull yourself up by the bootstraps

    (or just have a nervous breakdown-you are entitled to it)

  26. susan

    Life is a work in progress. Actually, almost anything might be said to be “a work in progress.” Often saying something is a work in progress is a way of deflecting attention from the issue at hand. Someone says, “You cannot be trusted.” The response is, “I think trust is a work in progress.” Or, let’s not talk about me, let’s talk about trust in general — perfect time for a platitude.

  27. Beowulf

    In response to the introduction above: I don’t think that the “platitudes” themselves are annoying in what they necessarily say. Some of them are quite wise, but it depends on

    1. Who says it to you.
    2. And how you interpret it.

    • Graeme

      You’re absolutely correct, context is pretty much everything.

    • heinouscanis

      ah, the price humanity pays for metacognition!

      • Graeme

        Err, what is the price for metacognition these days??

  28. Esra Kutlu

    what if they aren’t platitudes but said with belief in their meaning?
    “It is what it is” isn’t meaningless and pointless. It actually stands for the idea of accepting your experiences instead of trying to fight against the current and being in disharmony. Once you accept certain realities i.e. somebody not loving you back, getting diagnosis of cancer, having a relative pass, then you can rise to the occasion and deal with it the best you can.
    Which brings us to ” Everything happens for a reason”. There is no true or false of reality, but sometimes you can see the overall picture of things and derive meaning- even when something happens that brings about immense pain and agony. You can sometimes connect the dots looking backwards and see that what seemed like a nightmare and the worst thing that happened to you, led you to a new beginning that opened up meaningful experiences and positive change. If you try, you can create meaning, and that is something worth noting.
    “Money doesnt buy happiness” is also not meaningless. Money can buy you many things that can help you feel more content but at the end of the day you are who you are with or witout money. If you are pessimistic, anxious and discontent, being Donald Trump will not change that. You may not reflect on it if you are very wealthy because you will take on the perspective of the world in making yourself believe you are happy. The power of self-deceit is incredible….

  29. Tyler

    Perception and perspective are more easily conveyed in this fashion. It saves you time from using your brain, your not wrong because everyone says it, and all these sayings apply to every situation especially when you have no idea how they may be received.
    I think these platitudes can certainly demoralize our vocabulary; Absolutely limit our own perception of thought, I can see its easier to repeat what someone else said rather then communicate your own thoughts on the issue but I will miss ‘what goes around comes around’ personally as a kid and even still I delude myself into that perspective a worldly justice ‘ karama’ that I genuinely believe exists.

  30. Greg

    While I appreciate the sentiment that a phrase considered a “platitude” often does not make the person in pain FEEL any better and perhaps should not be spoken at particular moments, nonetheless, platitudes are most often platitudes because they are TRUE.

    What’s that old platitude? “Cliches are cliches because they are true, which itself is cliche”.

    Well, it is a platitude that platitudes are annoying. And it is a platitude that most platitude are true. But, again, that does not make them false. Most ARE true, and that IS why they became “platitudes”.

    But the tone exemplified in the article here and many posts is that the platitudes are annoying because they are FALSE. Take, for example, this one from the article:

    “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)”

    Well, TECHNICALLY, this platitude is CORRECT. If you are truly the same exact thing repeatedly and expect different results, that IS insanity. The parenthetical noting how this platitude is “wrong” is, in fact, WRONG, as it misses the point of the platitude. “Practice” is NOT doing the same thing expecting DIFFERENT results. Rather, practice is doing the same thing expecting the SAME results.

    This serves as an illustration of how having a political axe to grind most often results focusing on your agenda rather than on the truth of the matter.

    Gee, is that a platitude?

    • Scott Berkun

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. You make some interesting points. I’d offer counterarguments but I realize now how much of what makes a platitude useful/annoying is the context. When it’s said, who it’s sad by, who it’s said to, and why they’re saying it. A notion you helped clarify.

      In the hair splitting department: I still think the insanity platitude is wrong, at least some of the time. If I practice playing the exact same guitar chord ten times a day I am expecting that I will slowly, over time, get faster through repetition. Practice, in this example, is repeating the same exact thing with the expectation that over time I will see different results on the 1000th repetition than on the 10th.

    • Graeme Land

      Well, practice makes perfect, ooh sorry cliche or platitude, probably both. On a serious note Greg is right, we don’t repeat the exact same things because we know they will achieve the same results – Golf, Darts are good examples, Darts particularly because they do try to do the same thing over and over again – hit treble 20. It’s when they fail to hit their desired target that they adjust, proving that they aren’t insane!

    • Chris

      I like that Greg… good addition to this thread.

      Practice is what you do to get better or improve. You’re expecting, not the same exact result, but a better version of the result. Until you maximize the practice, to achieve the best or perfect result. Then you do the same thing over and over to maintain the result. Insane? Ask professional athletes, musicians, and inventors… among others.

      Context. The reason so many are annoyed with these little sayings, which as you pointed out are mostly true, is because they’re used in the wrong context. They’re applied to people’s lives by ignorant people who heard but didn’t understand. Then they repeat it, or offer it up as advice or comfort (in some situations), and it’s mis-applied and doesn’t help anybody… because it’s in the wrong context. Wrong place, wrong time. Read through the list above and imagine applying them at a funeral.

      True? Yes. True for any situation? No.

      Scott, that diagram of “Why People Fail” is great.

  31. Rommel

    Back in the day — this one irks me royally.

  32. Rommel

    Two more came to mind while watching Rachel Ray:

    “Got your back” — as in “I got your back”

    “Speak to” — as in will you speak to [a subject]

  33. kim

    I hate it when people use platitudes on me as much as the next person. Especially when I feel really down. So I don’t use them on other people. But I use them on myself quite often when I’m in a bad place but trying to get out of it. If I really feel it, and it succinctly describes how I feel, then I use it.

    “That which does not kill you only makes you stronger,” is one i use quite frequently to describe myself when someone comments on the horrific things that have happened to me in the past. And if someone asks why I keep cooking a meal that wasn’t that great the last time I cooked it (not the definition of insanity because I change an ingredient or two every time :P), then I’ll say “If at first you don’t succeed…” It will often make one of my long stories short, which most people really want.

    Bottom line: if the platitude fits, wear it! (I really hate that one!)

  34. Frank Farina

    What about platitudes couched as key learning outcomes in the typical liberal arts curriculum justification? for example, ‘education focused by engagement with big questions, both contemporary or enduring’? or, ‘civic knowledge and engagement at the local and global level’? or a wheel of outcomes-curriculum-pedagogy-assessment-outcomes-etc.

    • Graeme Land

      As someone who spent (too) many years lecturing in HE in the UK I went through all the fads and fashions, at one point, (I think it is still the case) we had to list our learning outcomes for the module we were teaching. Mine was: The student will know a great deal more about this subject than before they took this module, a) provided they attend regularly, b) contribute in seminars regularly and c) read at least some of the essential reading list……..otherwise they won’t achieve their learning outcomes and will fail the module! Needless to say I was asked to re-write it!

  35. Avron

    Practice makes perfect!

    Nonsense. Practice makes better!!

  36. Scott Berkun

    “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~George Eliot

  37. Jon Heider

    “Life isn’t fair.” and “It’s a cold, cruel world.” True, but sometimes I think people use these facts as excuses to be lazy and complacent and not do what they can to make the world a better place.


    It could be worse
    At least you’re not dead
    God doesn’t give you more than you can handle

  39. Vicki Tait

    Yes Kim you are correct in saying that “God doesn’t give you more than you can handles” is a platitude. That is not biblical. I Corinthians 10:13 states “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” This has everything to do with temptation and not with what you can handle.



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