15 Classic Idioms That Actually Make Good Advice for the Workplace

We hear idioms and cliches all the time, right? And usually, my eyes are the first to roll. But there’s a reason people still speak in idioms (even though many of them don’t make sense).

They’re easy to apply to any situation.

They can be universal truths. “A fool and his money are soon parted” is pretty much the basis for all of personal finance advice in the world.

They have universal appeal. Everyone can relate to them.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized: there’s actually some good advice in these idioms. Especially for the workplace!

I found 15 classic idioms that are actually pretty good at succinctly giving advice to employees.

  • 15 Classic Idioms That Actually Make Good Advice for the Workplace 1 of 15
  • A Bird in the Hand Is Worth Two in the Bush 2 of 15

    Workplace translation: don't leave your current job (the bird in your hand) in the hopes of finding a new one (two in the bush), because even though the bush birds offer twice as much potential, the only guarantee is the bird you're holding.


    Image by Kathleen O'Malley

  • A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand 3 of 15

    Workplace translation: be a team member, please! Work with your colleagues, not against them. You're all on the same team.


    Image by earl53

  • A Picture Paints a Thousand Words 4 of 15

    Workplace translation: dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Don't be sloppy. Your appearance speaks volumes about the way you present yourself on the job. You can say you're organized all you want, but if you have mismatched socks and ripped jeans, nobody will hear you.


    Image by MindExpansi0n

  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words 5 of 15

    Workplace translation: If you see something that needs to be done at work, do it. Don't talk about doing it. Don't tell someone else to do it. Just do it. You'll be seen as a person of action, and the person people want to come to when they need something done.


    Image by tcatcarson

  • Cut to the Chase 6 of 15

    Workplace translation: be direct in your communication. If you have something uncomfortable to say, delicately phrase it, but just say it and move on. Make your goal to cut down on the number of steps it takes to reach a conclusion.


    Image by phototogo2

  • A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss 7 of 15

    Workplace translation: switch jobs every few years to stay fresh. You don't want to get stagnant in your career, so every few years you should ask yourself whether you can continue growing or you've reached a plateau. If it's the latter, move on before you start to gather moss.


    Image by Friedel

  • Haste Makes Waste 8 of 15
    15 Classic Idioms That Actually Make Good Advice for the Workplace

    Workplace translation: Don't rush through something important. You'll end up looking like someone who makes too many mistakes. Take your time.


    Image by Kathleen O'Malley

  • Idle Hands Are The Devil’s Tools 9 of 15

    Workplace translation: If you don't have enough to do, ask for more. You don't want to be seen as expendable, so when you've finished your to-do list, make sure you're asking your supervisor for more work.


    Image by erdenebayar

  • It Takes Two to Tango 10 of 15

    Workplace translation: If someone is trying to argue with you, remember, you do not have to engage. Stay calm, stay quiet, and do not tango.


    Image by clarita

  • Let Sleeping Dogs Lie 11 of 15

    Workplace translation: Leave past arguments and conflicts in the past. Did you have a disagreement with a coworker last Friday? Let go of it by Monday morning.


    Image by Kathleen O'Malley

  • Method to Her Madness 12 of 15

    Workplace translation: Everyone has their own way of getting work done. There's no reason to concern yourself with how someone else accomplishes her tasks.


    Image by ManicMorFF

  • Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You 13 of 15

    Workplace translation: Remember who pays your check, and be respectful and responsive to them.


    Image by Kathleen O'Malley

  • Practice Makes Perfect 14 of 15

    Workplace translation: we all make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up over mistakes you've made. Just keep practicing  — you'll get better!


    Image by tkoscak

  • The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall 15 of 15

    Workplace translation: Don't compare yourself unfairly to your competition. Sure, you may be new, or you may be smaller than the other person, but if they fall, they have a lot to lose.


    Image by pippalou


Article Posted 3 years Ago

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