“The Customer is Always Right.”
Asshats galore try to use this one as some sort of universal law. What none of them seem to understand is that this was an advertising slogan for a department store. Saying this phrase is roughly equivalent to claiming, “Coke is it!” In actuality, the customer is frequently wrong, a whiner, and a moron.
“It Never Hurts to Ask.”
Scott and I agree that the only good thing to ever come out of the radio advice show “Rhona at Night” was when Rhona Raskin said, “there’s a certain tyranny to asking questions.” It doesn’t matter how rude or inappropriate the request, if someone says “no”, then they are marked as the rude one. And most of us are uncomfortable saying “no” — you feel guilty for doing it. But the ones who should feel guilty are the ones asking questions that they know deep down inside they shouldn’t be asking.
“How Are You?”
Perfectly fine between friends. Absolutely unnecessary and out-of-place between strangers. Cashiers don’t care how I am, they’re just trained to say that. And really, even friends and coworkers for the most part don’t want to hear an honest answer. They want to hear the standardized response of “fine”. Back in my bank teller days, I made it a point to never ask a customer how they were, because I really didn’t care. And I was always amused at how many people would respond to my “hello there” with “fine, thanks”. Ah, so not only are you not listening to what I say to you, but you’re also going with the conversation-stopper of “thanks” on the end of your “fine” instead of the more reciprocal “fine, and you?”
Phrase on, people! What absurd/completely wrong/overused sayings grind on you?