In my opinion, the most prime examples of boiler plate are in denial letters, especially for internships. Over Spring Break I received one, and the first thing I said was, “Tell me how you really feel.” Here’s what part of it said: “We had an extraordinarily strong pool of applicants this year. We are very impressed with your application. Unfortunately, we cannot offer you an interview at this time.” But you said the same thing to my two friends next to me who didn’t get the position either. Were you really impressed with all of our applications? Maybe I’m just bitter, but this use of boiler plate came off pretentious in the moment when in all seriousness I knew they were being completely polite. But I honestly would have preferred if I had gotten a little bit of feedback, though I know that is nearly impossible to receive when hundreds apply for a limited number of positions.
One of the sayings that I think is common, but not boiler plate, but a form is when someone sincerely says, “I’m sorry.” Sometimes we overuse it, but for the most part I think it’s used genuinely when it’s said. Sometimes people say it when they don’t know how to respond to a tragedy or unfortunate situation in someone’s life, but with the right tone, it lets someone know that you care about them. It’s only two words, but it can be a preamble to a display of support.