Whatever happened to talking with simplicity and clarity? It seems in the worlds of business, government, and academics, the more confusing you are the more intelligent you sound. But the truth is, it’s getting out of hand. At a recent academic conference, here were some of the terms tossed around:
“The politics of representation”
“Reflexivity of discomfort”
“Dialogic process of being human”
Am I just an idiot, or do those terms have no meaning at all? Writer Peggy Noonan noticed it when watching TV recently:
“The other day I was watching “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, and Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, came on from Washington to talk about health care. A reporter on the set, Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times, asked a few clear and direct questions: What is President Obama’s health-care plan, how would it work, what would it look like? I leaned forward. Finally I will understand. Ms. Sebelius began to answer in that dead and deadening governmental language that does not reveal or clarify but instead wraps legitimate queries in clouds of words and sends them on their way. I think I heard “accessing affordable quality health care,” “single payer plan vis-à-vis private multiparty insurers” and “key component of quality improvement.” In any case, she didn’t answer the question, which was a disappointment but not a surprise. No one answers the question anymore.”
Write this down: People who speak with clarity and simplicity know what they’re talking about. They have confidence. Listen to them. But when things get cloudy, confusing, and obscure, that’s a person who doesn’t have a clue about the real answer. Run.