Verbal Hide & Seek: Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are!

Love ya. Did you ever wonder why people these days often express their love and devotion in such a sterile way? What happened to “I love you”? Where did the I go? Are we so afraid to express our feelings?

As I began to think about this, I came up with another verbal trick we use to avoid taking responsibility, but this time it’s about our actions, not our feelings. Today, especially in business, it’s common to say something like “The new smart phone technology allows me to conduct business, speak with friends and watch a movie.” The word “allows” is the culprit. Again, where’s the I? And, more importantly, who’s in control here?

Isn’t it more effective – and assertive – if we said, “With the new smart phone technology, I can conduct business, speak to my friends and watch a movie”? “Allowing” is passive and flimsy – as if we’re asking permission – and yet we seem to be increasingly using these kinds of word formulations in our communications.

I feel the same way about the F words “facilitate” and “foster.” Could there be any two words that are more convoluted and vague? Why are these words so commonly used today when just 10 years ago they were hardly used at all? I’m keen to foster and facilitate a change – to a time when we used stronger, clearer words like help, boost, support, promote, speed, assist, reinforce, cultivate, work with, or any number of other options.

One of the goals of good writing in general, and business writing in particular, is to be persuasive. And you can’t be persuasive unless you’re present, with a point of view. You can’t hide and expect an audience to get your message.

Here’s my theory. I believe these new word choices reflect a change in our culture in which we are unconsciously afraid to declare ourselves honestly and forthrightly (Love ya) or take responsibility for our actions, for fear of unknown consequences. Have things gotten so unnerving in our world that we are linguistically choosing to bury our heads in the proverbial sand?

Well, that’s what I think. I love you all.

Love me back: (Link to Facebook.)

 

3 comments on “Verbal Hide & Seek: Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are!

  1. Catherine Ann Stone on

    Once again, a great blog! YOU made ME aware that sometimes “I” don’t take responsibility for MY feelings and MY decisions. Perhaps YOU saved all of US a bundle on shrink costs with just a few of YOUR, extremely well written paragraphs about word choices. “WE” love you too!

  2. Ginny Hull Hartline on

    Hey Don. I always love the thought you put into your blog posts. Kudos to you for continuing to come up with communication concepts pertinent to today’s varied marketplaces and technologies. I concur with Catherine, we love you too 🙂

  3. It drives me crazy. Love ya. I cringe when I write it. It’s disingenuous and feels wrong. Yet so common I often wonder if my genuine I Love You will be uncomfortable or misinterpreted…it’s happened before when simply signing ‘Love.’ I thought jumping to those conclusions ended in high school. Earlier today I rolled my eyes at ‘allow’ in my own writing and changed it. Very timely!

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