Words that cancel
No, this is not about cancel culture, whatever that means. This blog entry is about how words help or hurt each other. I was prompted to write this after reading today in an ad for a window company that it featured a “Robust Limited Warranty”. Robust lost its meaning when I learned it is limited.
While some terms are redundant and reasonably harmless (such as “widow lady”) others are just hard to swallow. How about hearing sentences that begin, “To be honest….” Is this needed to differentiate a person’s honest comments from their dishonest ones?
Many words are simply overused to the point that they lose meaning. In organizational life everything is now “driven”. We are customer driven, service driven, results driven. I guess this means that the person using the expression is driven by someone or something else. If so, who or what is at the wheel and where are they going? Another term used frequently is unique. Our unique approach…. our unique product. Unique means one of a kind. It should be used sparingly if it is not to cancel its sharp edge.
A word I also hear a lot is amazing. That was an amazing call, Hal. And what an amazing workshop. Amazing means “causing great surprise or wonder.” It speaks to what is staggering, stunning, astonishing. How many times in a day, week, or year does something truly amazing happen to us?
Much of word use is habit. The problem is that when we pull extremes into common expression, we lose what is exceptional. When we expand our use of such words, we shrink their value.
I hope you found this blog entry amazing, unique, and reader driven. And if not, I’ll settle for a chuckle.