Regular readers of these blog posts will know I have a series of ‘red rag words’ that get my goat. (You’ll also know I like alliteration). Just three are ‘engage’, ‘deliver’ and ‘disrupt’ (as related to business innovation).
I think what I dislike about current use of these words is that, more often than not, they’re lazy language; used so vaguely as to be meaningless. ‘We will engage with the community’ ‘We will deliver Brexit’ ‘We’re in the business of disruption’– but how, why and when? Just saying it doesn’t commit anyone to anything. Lovers get engaged, letters are delivered – although both increasingly rarely – while train delays increasingly disrupt people’s lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted if one word can take the place of three and when a single word used in the right context needs no further explanation – that’s the beauty of our language well-used.
I’m now fast developing a collection of red rag phrases – ‘agile working’ (see my blog on the subject), ‘fit for purpose’, and ‘blended learning’ are three recent additions to the list. I think people use phrases like this because they trip off the tongue (there goes that alliteration again) and they sound positive and definite. In reality, they don’t have any consequences for the speaker or writer so they’re safe to spout.
‘Say what you mean and mean what you say’ is sound advice. Yes – language has to evolve, yes – grammatical rules are there to be broken, but clear communication is too important for words to be carelessly used and abused by lazy linguists.
For other blog posts in this ‘communications matters’ series, go to https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/communication-matters