“I Smell What You’re Stepping In”

The other day I was yapping away to my husband, Keith, and he let me know he was listening—and empathizing— by saying,

“I smell what you’re stepping in.”

It made me laugh for half an hour. 

Last week, Keith and I visited my stepmother and she said, after kissing my (bearded) husband goodbye,

“Kissing a man without a beard is like eating an egg without salt.”

It was another, blissful phrase that’s cracked me up for a week (Not to mention bringing a whole new appreciation to kissing my husband.)

Why do I bring these to your attention? Because too often we fall back on useless modifiers,

We say, “It was great, amazing, incredible….”

Um….Are you talking about your date or your sandwich?

Or we say, “It was boring, dry, average…..”

Again, are you talking about your date or your sandwich?

I was thinking about this yesterday as I helped a new client prepare to talk to the press about her revamped product. When I asked her how it was different from the old product, she said,

“It’s more fun.”

Um….It may well be, but nothing much happens in my brain when you say “fun.”

What can you do to help yourself out with this?

I recommend keeping a list of metaphors, phrases, etc. that catch your attention (Some of my favorites are, “That guy is all hat and no cattle,” for use in those moments when you doubt someone else’s abilities; or, “I was left tap dancing on a shag rug.” for use in those moments when you doubt your own.)

Because if you want to catch people’s attention—to get press for your product, to get an interviewer to remember you, to get your customer to buy your service—you need to use language that helps them to smell what you’re stepping in.