Strip it down

I used to love really wordy authors. Salman Rushdie, Conrad Black type guys who have such ridiculous command of English that native speakers are often left wondering ‘what the fuck did that guy just say?’

Pedantry does impress in some circles. In others it is quickly labeled arrogant. The normative debate is of little actual value.

For functional communications purposes stripped down and simple are better than pedantic and complex. ‘No’ say myriad folks (i.e. academics) who are invested in the pedantic, ‘nuance is complexity and the word is a complex place’. Yes, indeed life is complicated but it can and must be broken down into mundane, basic tasks so that we can deal with and manage the seemingly unmanageable.

By overloading subordinates with information and communicating in long, abtruse diatribes do we think anyone is going to figure things out? If talking over people makes you feel good that is fine. But please don’t expect others to enjoy working with or for you. We’ve all sat through countless lectures/business presentations wherein some very smart person loses an entire room due to their own unwillingness to speak in plain, jargon-free language, repeat a concept frequently and then engage the audience to ensure they got the point. Doing this stuff  ain’t hard. In fact it requires that one remember only these three things.

I’ll take the simple communications of Hemingway or Bukowski over Rushdie any damn day.

Check the ego needs that fuel pedantry at the door. Strip it down, repeat it and then engage to make sure we get it. We’ll all be richer in a number of ways if this happens.

5 Comments

  • Lindsay D. says:

    I couldn’t agree more! Just tell me what it is you want – IN PLAIN ENGLISH and I’d be more than happy to follow through. It’s when your left scratching your head trying to wrap your thoughts around the first point that problems occur and it just seems to snowball after that….EVERY TIME.
    Simple is stripped

  • Lindsay D. says:

    I couldn’t agree more! Just tell me what it is you want – IN PLAIN ENGLISH and I’d be more than happy to follow through. It’s when your left scratching your head trying to wrap your thoughts around the first point that problems occur and it just seems to snowball after that….EVERY TIME.
    Stripped is simple.

  • […] – Tailoring communications about the object to the level of the audience – speaking so they can understand you. […]

  • Jackson Wightman says:

    Thanks. I guess some folks have the inability to explain things simply. However, some seem to want to blur/obfuscate/complicate what could be understood by all by using overly jargony language. I found some of the arguments in John Ralston Saul’s book Voltaire’s Bastards on this idea really powerful. Worth checking out!

  • […] You don’t have the luxury of over the top communications and a free pass to sound like a fool. I know you’re way too smart to read KJ’s playbook but you need to take make sure your communications dial down the rhetoric. […]

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