two horrid wank-word trends

This is just a quick one really, a follow-up to my rant on wanky weasel words from a month or two ago. The first irksome cliche I’ve been shuddering about seems only to come from one person whose articles I read. I won’t name them, because aside from this irritating habit their articles are really great stuff. It’s just that there’s no reason why I should ever be asked to keep anything “in my thought orbit”. I’d be happy to bear something in mind. I’m willing not to forget. However, I refuse point-blank to keep something in my thought-orbit. Besides, I’d be the first to admit that my mind is incapable of gathering circling objects by sole virtue of its enormous mass.

The other phrase that’s really grinding my gears is a proclamation that “the optics are bad”. Or worse, that “the optics are terrible”. When a situation or someone’s actions create a poor impression, we’re generally not talking about how it literally looks. Surely the point is that the result is a negative emotional reaction is caused by the idea of what has happened. The aesthetic is not what’s important here, it’s the concept. To say that the optics of a situation is bad is to me equally as incongruous as saying, “You’re doing so well! I mean, you’re literally on fire out there!”

Bah. These don’t sound clever. They don’t get the point across more clearly and they’re not precious little nuggets of poetry. They’re both just a couple more examples of irritating cliches that distract and confuse. Stop that!

write clearly! it’s not your mission to confuse and bedazzle!

There’s a bee in my bonnet. Its buzzing grows louder with every stilted email full of unnecessary jargon and poor grammar. It ricochets wildly with every corporate cliché and meaningless acronym. There’s a mud shoveling effort afoot in business writing and the waters grow murkier by the day.

Why seemingly sensible human beings will speak in plain English on the telephone then drop synergy-bombs and litter “leverages” throughout their writing baffles me. Is it to impress your audience with your in-crowd vocabulary? Through confusion, do you hope to impress and awe? I’ve always thought that effective writing means getting your point across clearly with a voice and tone that suit the situation.

Whilst I don’t claim to be a terrific writer, here are just a few things that I avoid like the plague when creating an email.

  • Using an unnecessarily long word when a short one gets the same point across:
    • ascertain instead of find out
    • undertake instead of do or agree to
    • numerous instead of many
  • Replacing an easily explained concept with an undefined acronym:
    • PMO instead of “our current approach” or “what we do now”
    • FMO instead of “a new approach” or “what we will do in future”
  • Not only using a business-wank word, but misusing it! I’ve already whinged about leveraging instead of using but damn that pisses me off.
  • Liberal application of clichés:
    • Best in breed
    • Low-hanging fruit
    • Drill down
    • Cascading information
    • Moving forward
    • Touch base about that offline
    • In this space
    • The list goes on…

I’m afraid I’m fighting a losing battle. Does anyone feel like adding to my collection of writing sins?