As a sage once said, actions speak louder than words. On the other hand, the pen is mightier than the sword.

For project work, remember this: many hands make light work. Also this: too many cooks spoil the broth.

Looking for words of wisdom? There’s a proverb to help you out, but many of these folk sayings are contradictory. They’re called antonymous proverbs:

  • The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Silence is golden.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Look before you leap. He who hesitates is lost.
  • It’s better to be safe than sorry. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • Birds of a feather flock together. Opposites attract.
  • Two’s company, three’s a crowd. The more, the merrier.
  • All good things come to those who wait. Time waits for no one.
  • Stop and smell the roses. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Writing in Psychology Today, evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber explains that pairs like these, which refute each other, are no surprise.

“Most contradictory proverbs relate to life’s uncertainties, whether in love, business, politics or health,” says Dr. Barber. “Most of the time we cannot predict what the future will bring. In the world of proverbial wisdom, all options are covered. Whatever happens, there is a proverb to say ‘I told you so’.”

Language expert Mark Peters says that while proverbs can be used to motivate, their straightforwardness can also keep people from reflecting more deeply on decisions.

“The simplicity of proverbs can create simplicity of thought, ruling out complex solutions and ideas,” wrote Peters for the BBC.

So maybe think of a fresh way to offer a pithy piece of advice. You’re never too old to learn. Unfortunately, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

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