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Avoiding clichÉs and untruths in business and life

(First on Marketing Web www.marketingweb.co.za by Nigel Fox of Fox Communications, slightly abridged)

There are lies, damn lies and jargon. The unintelligible, meaningless language used by supposed experts and authorities to bamboozle the rest of us lesser mortals. And it's usually easy to spot. Here are a few, very familiar examples of the preambles to obfuscation.
‘Let me put it this way...' Because I don't want to put any answers your way.

‘You have to understand ...' Because I'm not going to explain.
‘Strictly off the record ...' Because it's way off any form of reality.
 ‘Don't quote me but ...' Because I don't want you to print any untruths.
‘I'm glad you asked that question ...' Because now I can ignore it.
And the winner is -
‘To be perfectly honest ...' Because you've got to be mentally impaired to believe me.
Jargon is used by spin masters like a strong sauce is used by inferior chefs - to hide the underlying imperfections. The word itself comes from the French for the twittering of birds.
To me, the use of jargon is like the bell at the start of a round of boxing. Prepare for some fancy footwork.
In advertising copy, it appears as the seven highly over-exposed habitual clichés of the hack writer.
‘The quest for excellence ...' But we haven't found it yet.
‘Personalised service ...' We ignore everybody equally.
‘Your call is important to us ...' But not this century.
‘March madness sale ...' Time to offload the festive season leftovers.
‘Commitment to quality ...' Like we've been committed to a mental institution.
‘No quibble guarantee ...' But lots of delays, fine print and excuses.
And the humdinger -
‘We care ...' About profits, bonuses, shareholders' dividends, in fact anything and everything except the customer.
If you're a reader, listener, viewer and you come across any of these verbal weasels, treat them with the contempt they deserve. If you're a writer, avoid them like the ghastly plague they are.
If you can't convey a straightforward message in ordinary language that you might use to the person next to you in a bank queue, you're trying to impress somebody, probably the client. And the first casualty of that conversation is usually the truth.