The Corporate Storyteller

Expert tips on management communications and the power of storytelling

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Down with the Rise of Doublespeak!

Is anyone else bothered--or even noticing--the rapid rise of doublespeak, which seems to have gained a dominate position in our daily communications? I can remember when the practice was derided as deceptive and dishonorable. Now it's become not only accepted but often applauded as admirable oratory.

One famous example of doublespeak a decade ago was derided in the media because it was so blatantly preposterous. When President Clinton was challenged about his statement that there was nothing going on between him and Monica Lewinsky, he replied, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." And he followed up with a rambling, nonsensical explanation.

Recent news contains similar explanations in abundance. Sports stars aren't taking steroids--until they say they are/were. Business leaders say their companies are doing well--until the collapse a few days, weeks or months later. Financial institutions are solid--until they all of a sudden need a bailout to remain in operation. The current stimulus package in Congress has no earmarks--until it's revealed to have more than 9,000. It depends on what the meanings of the words "taking", "well", "solid" and "no" are, right?

How about this: let's all be mindful of the need for clarity of thought and action--among our leaders as well as ourselves in every aspect of our lives. And let's call people on their doublespeak. Don't you think we'd all get along much better if we started with a clear understanding of who we are, what we're doing and how we're doing?

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