October 31, 2014

Politically Correct Euphemisms Must Die

politically correctHave you noticed a lack of true communication in the world today?

It’s not simply that there are so many who just plain lack the skills necessary to communicate effectively among the skilled, trained and experienced, there is a current trend to soften things up so much that clarity is obscured or even lost all together.

It shows up in academics, reporting, marketing, and even fiction.

I am sick of politically correct (PC) euphemisms. One that chaps my hide is calling problems “difficulties” or “challenges” or “opportunities” or any other safe-for-children-and-small-pets blather. A problem isn’t a challenge, it’s a problem.

Sure, it may also be difficult or challenging or what have you – but we lose something powerful when we just deflect what is right in front of us.

I once heard a company CEO say to a crowd:

“In the past, our product was sub-optimal from a performance standpoint.”

I was in the front row. My stunned look must have been priceless. Mr. CEO, I think what you meant to say is:

“Our product didn’t work.”

Here’s another:

“Six figures.”

What is that supposed to mean? Do we really think that the difference between 100,000 and 999,999 is insignificant? And don’t even get me started on “seven figures.”

Whew…

Okay, I’ve taken a deep breath now, sipped my chamomile tea, and pet my kitty. I’m fine…really. It sure was nice to get that off my chest though.

The message here is:  if you are going to communicate, speak with genuineness, write with clarity.

Obscuring your topic may seem like it is easing people into the flow, but it is rather lulling them to sleep — or on to something more interesting.

This is especially important when you are writing marketing copy. No one likes to be sold to, so you have a higher standard to meet when you are selling. If you are offering something that is a bonafide good value – you can afford to say so out loud. If you are finding the path of direct sincerity to be difficult, you may need to examine the value of your offering to see if it is up to par.

Speaking clearly does not give license for tactlessness. Honesty is not an excuse for rudeness. Communication is an art in that regard. But the beauty in art comes from its freedom.

Don’t get caught up in the current “rules” about how you are “supposed to” write or speak. If you check your intent and make sure you are on the side of your listener, reader, or dare I say prospect, then you will find the creativity will flow.

As a result, people will find you more understandable, more likable, and more trustworthy.

Political Correctness Photo via Shutterstock

9 Comments ▼

Kenneth Vogt


Kenneth Vogt Kenneth Vogt helps entrepreneurial men with a big purpose cut through the fog to change the world. You can find updates of true clarity and a free guide, "How To Get Clarity and Hold On To It" at Vera Claritas.

9 Reactions

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m sick of it too. Also, please write an article about people who cannot speak without acronyms. Speak with clarity and communication becomes more effective.

  2. Thanks SO MUCH for this post, Ken. It’s absolutely needed! I’ve noticed there’s a big difference in the voice on a individually owned blog and a company owned blog. I hate reading company blogs because their mind numbingly boring and lack personality. Where as an individual person’s blog usually has more life and the tone is conversational. More companies and brands need to read this post! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

    Ti

    • According to the U.S. Supreme Court, corporations are people from the standpoint of the law. But here in the real world, we know when we are hearing humanspeak and when we are hearing corporatespeak. When have you every said to a friend, “I regret any inconvenience I may have caused you”? Companies need to realize they will not sound less professional to say, “I’m so, so sorry”. In fact they will win loyalty instead.

  3. “speak with genuineness, write with clarity” = “speak genuinely, write clearly.”

    It ain’t easy!

    • Touché. My editor and I went back and forth on that very one and I’m not sure who won anymore. Of course genuine writing doesn’t always require good writing. Sincerity shines through even hacked up stuff, ain’t that so?

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