Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

When someone is going through a job loss, break up or death, what should you not say?

In this episode, Lindsay and Michelle share eight English cliches to avoid saying to someone who is overcoming a difficult situation.

These are good pointers to help you make a solid connection while showing your support in English.

Make sure you also check out a similar episode AEE 1708: Doors, Business, and Why They Have More in Common Than You Might Think.

Situation #1: A Breakup

Your friend just broke up with someone. There are so many cliches around this in the English language.

Lindsay says she sees so many cliches but it doesn’t mean it is okay to say to a friend who is heartbroken.

The first cliché is “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Michelle agrees this is very annoying to say or to hear.

It means that you’re pushing the person to get over the situation quickly.

People don’t like it when you force them to believe their feelings are not unique.

Everyone processes pain differently.

Lindsay advises that if you don’t have something to improve how they are feeling, just sit there and listen.


Lindsay: I can’t believe the relationship is over.

Michelle: Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened!

It sounds so bad so don’t try and say it.

Another annoying cliché is “There are other fish in the sea.”

This is often used to try and inject positivity into the situation.

But it actually sounds like you are belittling or trivializing the situation.

It also doesn’t feel like you are there to support the person because your response is a cliché instead of showing support in a personalized way.

Your friend called you to help her feel better or just simply be there for them.


Michelle: I don’t think anyone was better for me than Paul.

Lindsay: Oh Michelle. There are other fish in the sea!

The next cliché is “It will happen when you least expect it.”

Lindsay says this is especially annoying when it comes from a person who is in a happy relationship.

It makes them feel like you are being preachy.

If you are in a good relationship, you will not be able to relate to the single person completely. Don’t try and make them feel you understand what they are going through.

Michelle adds that you can sound insensitive if you say this.


Lindsay: I’m never gonna meet anyone!

Michelle: It will happen when you least expect it!

Situation #2: Job Loss

Lindsay says using the cliché “Good things come to those who wait” sounds juvenile and condescending.

It sounds like what a grandmother would say to her grandson who is waiting on a piece of a cookie.

Michelle mentions the cliché “All it takes is one” is demotivating to say to someone who recently lost their job.

It can be encouraging though to a person who has already sent out a bunch of applications and is just waiting for a new employer to respond to them.

A person will be really down in the dumps after losing their job so it would be best to be supportive and help them feel better.


Lindsay: I’ve been looking for a job forever since I lost mine.

Michelle: You’ll get one. Good things come to those who wait. All it takes is one.

Situation #3: Jealousy

The worst cliché you can say to someone who is feeling jealous is “The grass is greener on the other side.”


Michelle: Your apartment is amazing. I have cockroaches all over mine!

Lindsay: Oh Michelle, the grass is always greener on the other side.

In the episode, Michelle says this is a bad example and laughs.

Lindsay tells her it’s alright because she gets what she wants to share with this example.

This is something a lot of people do.

They keep comparing themselves or what they have with other people and end up unhappy.

In this situation, you must address the real reason for what they are feeling.

Why do they wish to covet something that someone else has?

When someone mentions they are feeling jealous and you use this cliché you are making them feel worse.

It would be best to shift their perspective and make them look at the positives in their own lives.

Situation #4: Overwhelmed

Saying “Taking it One Day At a Time” to a person who is really busy and overwhelmed makes it seems like you are not really listening.


Lindsay: I have way too much on my plate.

Michelle: Take it one day at a time!

You will come across as insensitive because you aren’t matching their energy.

When you say this, clearly you are not overwhelmed and that is not good to say to someone who is already burdened with an enormous workload.

Situation #5: Death

This is very weird, because if you use “He or she’s in a better place” as a response to a grieving person you are invalidating their feelings.

On top of that, it looks like you are trying to impose your own views on death.

Not everyone has the same belief as you. Not everyone believes in the afterlife or heaven.

If you lose a loved one, you want them to be here with you and it’s painful to think that they are in another place that is assumed to be better than where you are.


Michelle: I’m going to miss fluffy so much.

Lindsay: He’s in a better place.

Another bad cliché to someone who lost their loved ones is “Time heals all wounds.”

This is also mentioned about breakups. Michelle says that with grief, you grow around it, it doesn’t really go away.

Lindsay believes this is true around breakups or lost love.

But with grief and death it changes a little bit.

You don’t necessarily move on from that.


Lindsay: My grandfather died. This really hurts.

Michelle: Aw Lindsay. Time heals all wounds.

Saying “Time heals all wounds” may sound insensitive.

If someone is hurting, it’s better to give them a hug and let them cry over your shoulder than say anything.


In this episode of All Ears English, Michelle and Lindsay enjoyed sharing what you shouldn’t say in a certain situation, instead of the usual format where they share what you should say.

Lindsay says don’t learn your English from cards, magnets, or mugs.

There are a lot of clichés that are inappropriate or would not help you convey the right tone and emotions in different circumstances in an English conversation.

Don’t use clichés when someone is really upset.

Be present with the person when they are not feeling okay and you will have a better chance of building a strong relationship in English.

What is another cliché that you don’t want to hear?

Let us know in the comment down below.

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