Some of the common cliché phrases that we find ourselves using every day do not belong in professional writing. This has become abundantly clear to me as it has become more commonplace for me to work with international clients.
As an American, I am familiar with the intended meaning of a number of common sayings that really don’t make much sense when interpreted literally or translated into another language.
I was writing an e-mail message to a client in another country, and I found myself typing something to the effect of making sure we were “on the same page.” I stopped and look at what I wrote, and realized that what I wrote wasn’t really what I meant.
The next day, I found myself writing an e-mail to a co-worker that said that I wasn’t “at the top of my game” that day. Hmm … another phrase that really doesn’t make sense if you don’t know the implied meaning.
Someone not familiar with American vernacular would not be likely to understand these phrases. Even if my clients and business associates do know what I mean when I use clichéd phrases like these, they might find it not professional.
Look at the phrases that you use when you write and see if they make sense when translated literally. If they don’t, replace them with language that is clear and direct, with no room for misunderstanding.