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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Not Giving Clarity to Your People? Then Kick Out All Those Clichés!

Ivan's Blog is reaching a landmark because on October 12th this year it will have been sent out every Sunday since October 2009, a total of 260 posts.

During that time it has achieved in excess of 50,000 page views.  I accept that it is not the sort of posting that is likely to go viral but I know that it has several dedicated readers and for that I am very grateful.

It has been interesting looking back at some of the early postings.  There was a time when I indulged myself in having a rant and I feel one coming on right now.

I am saddened by the apparent deterioration in English usage and particularly in the use of many words and phrases which are either irrelevant or are there just to fill in a space.

To illustrate, have you noticed how many times the word “basically” is used in conversation and very frequently by people answering questions in the media?

I hadn’t noticed this before and now it seems that everyone is using it and I am feeling overwhelmed.

Even more irritating is the ‘filler’ of “you know” or more normally “y’know.  In a broadcast I heard last night a lady of some presence and position used it so frequently that I genuinely couldn’t concentrate on what she was supposed to be saying.

Then we hear the overuse of ‘kind of'’, ‘sort of’, and if you are young enough, ‘like’ which has to be sprinkled widely throughout. Add to that there is a seeming need for reassurance by adding ‘right?’ to almost any statement.

In my days as an apprentice in the aircraft industry we had a famous (to us) labourer who had reduced the filler ‘you know what I mean’ to an incomprehensible but shorter ‘y’mean’.

It is all very well having a rant and it does make one feel better to get it off the proverbial chest but does it have any meaning in the business world?

Leadership is one of those intangibles that we seem to recognise but find difficulty in defining in a few words.

Certainly a major part of that definition would include clarity of communication and unless leaders give a good deal of though to not only what they are saying but also how they are saying it, then there will be no clarity.

One of my Vistage members says that leadership comprises appointing great people and effective communication.  A good definition?  I think so and it encapsulates the need for the leader to be able to explain ideas so that everyone understands them without further explanation.

It is a good (but sometimes depressing) technique to record oneself giving a talk or even a speech and note all of those words that mean nothing and get in the way of that much desired clarity.

In my infant class in my very early days, the redoubtable Miss Middleton taught us, on the pain of a good beating, never and I mean never to use the words ‘get’ or ‘got’.

Looking back over my blog posts I have defied Miss Middleton (Miggy to her friends) and I have used them on a few occasions, not without a certain fear of retribution.


So, basically, y’kmow, at the end of the day, would you 'actually' be able to eliminate all that rubbish and speak in real English, which is a beautiful, elegant and sophisticated language when properly used.  If so, like, cheers, right?

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