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Winning catchphrases II


‘’Catchphrases are self-fulfilled prophecies. A bad catchphrase is full of negativity and may lead to failure but a good one can take you very far in terms of happiness and success.” That was the conclusion in the previous article. Being able to say a winning catchphrase is a kind of communication skill.  If it is applied properly, difficult situations can quickly be turned around. 


Below are three equations we can use in applying winning catchphrases in different situations.

  1. When facing challenges or failure, use “WE + VERB” to demonstrate mutual support and to ease the wounds. For example, in a high school staff meeting while examining the reasons for the increase in the dropout rate, discussions came to a halt in a rather awkward atmosphere. The principal who was gifted as a leader, then proceeded by saying the following, “Please let me know any time you need me,” and “What more can we do to improve the situation?”. The first statement shows the principal’s shoulder, sincerity and promise and the later one shows the group as a unit and not as individuals. Furthermore, after brainstorming and offering many solutions, a good leader can say “These solutions are all good!” or “Let’s continue working hard together” to encourage the staff and to end the meeting on a positive note. 

  2. When facing conflicts or confrontations, use self-interrogative statements to prevent tension in the group and make room for compromise. For example, seven years ago, when I was taking a marketing course in an MBA program, a conflict occurred while our group was discussing a case study in preparation for a presentation. I was the oldest in the group so I decided to go out to buy some food and drinks to calm everyone down. In a more relaxed atmosphere when everyone was eating, I admitted to the rest of the group that I could be wrong. Afterwards, I convinced both sides to reveal their blind spots and come to a compromise in the midst of the standoff.

  3. Inspire everyone to take new actions, to think differently and to use “VERB + DIRECTION” to point to the limitless possibilities. For example, when a challenging science project is presented to the class, the teacher assures everyone that they are able to do it. Though it may be difficult, you can say, “I will find a way!” or “I am up for the challenge!” 


It is considered normal to ask questions in class, but it takes person with a bold attitude to question questions. A CEGEP student shared the following story with me. His calculus grade was 103 % on a scale of 100 %. “Where did the 3 % come from?” I asked.  He said that he pointed out a mistake on an exam question. The professor admitted his mistake and granted him a 3% bonus. I have taught this student math for a long time and knew his character very well. When he questioned the questions, his tone must have been extremely low profile but firm at the same time, without provoking the professor. 

In a recent U.S. survey, six catchphrases that we should use less, were mentioned. 

  1. One of the most detestablecatchphrases is"whatever."It gives others a sense of indifference and can even provoke or anger them. 

  2. “Anyway.” – “Anyway” ranked second and is used randomly at any event,in any case. Its meaning is similar to whatever.

  3. “You know.” - “You know” is ranked first on the American spoken catchphrase list. It is often unconsciously inserted in the sentence with no special meaning.  I remember when I studied in the States thirty years ago, many overseas students liked to use “you know” in many occasions. One time, a professor finally said “I don’t know” angrily to a student that kept repeating that sentence and made them realize of its insignificance. 

  4.  “It is what it is”means exactly that and that the fact is impossible tochange.  Thetonealso contains afeeling of helplessness.

  5. “At the end of the day”means after all this, things end like this.It is what it is.

  6.  “See! I told you!” means I am smarter than you. This statement only pulls people apart, not closer.


The following site has a compilation of what moms say multiple times a day: From these expressions, we can sort out many winning catchphrases from the point of view of parents including “I will always love you - no matter what,” and “How do you know you don't like it if you haven't tried it?”

I would like to conclude this article with a few short, but sweet catchphrases that we can all use to encourage our kids: “We are quite proud of you”, “You can make it!”, “That sounds great!” and  “Opportunity knocks but once.”

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