Commonly Used Idioms In The Office: Part 1

11.04.2016 |

When I teach English, I do my best to be a “cheerleader” to my students. When we have an exceptionally great class, I often tell them with a huge smile on my face, “You really killed it today!”

If the student is more advanced, they laugh and say, “Thank you, Tosha.” However, oftentimes, when I say that phrase I am greeted with looks of confusion. I then explain to them that the phrase means that they did a really good job. I welcome these looks of confusion because it allows me the opportunity to share idioms (expressions that are not meant to be taken literally) that are commonly used in America.

Think outside the box: Create an original idea outside the boundaries of normal thinking, constraints, systems or rules.

Example: “If we are going to win this proposal, we need to think outside the box.

Not going to fly: When an idea, plan or concept is not going to work (be successful or supported by others).

Example: “Mike that idea is too outside of the box. It’s not going to fly with the boss.”

Start off on the right foot: To begin a project, relationship or action in a sensible and sound way, so that the probabilities of a successful project or relationship are made stronger.

Example: “We need to start this project off on the right foot because we have a tight deadline.”

On the same page: Make sure that everyone involved in the discussion understands the topic(s) being discussed from the same perspective; having the same shared understanding of a situation / perspective.

Example: “It’s difficult to be on the same page with you because you keep changing the subject.”

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: Do not allow yourself to put all your hopes and dreams into one idea, plan, or concept. You need to remain open to other options, and to consider pursuing a number of approaches to maximize the probabilities of success.

Example: “I know you feel like you got the job, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you keep applying for other positions.”

However, it is not just business situations where these idioms are used. They are used in everyday common language by most of us, so it is important to grasp their meanings as quickly as possible. Idioms exist in most modern languages, but they do not tend to translate very well into anything meaningful when literally translated word-for-word. It is their figurative meanings that are important, which normally cannot be easily understood from the literal meanings of the words.


Recommended book

“Why Do We Say It?” by Castle Books


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