Interesting….spin is self-defeating

Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly (Photo credit: dpapworth)

“Interesting” has a nuance about it and not a very pleasant one. I usually meet it in comments on something I ‘ve written as in

“an interesting article Henry…” .

I brace myself..

The respondent did not find the article “interesting” , the respondent found it obnoxious and is taking the trouble to explain why.

I was talking with someone yesterday who told me his mother used to say “interesting” when one of his sisters came home in a pelmet skirt. “Interesting” triggers a holding pattern which sets up an engagement which is likely to be intense and most likely confrontational.

I’m interested in words like this as they position conversations. Lawyers use these words a lot as a means of taking control of an argument. Words like this are easy prey for comics whose job it is to debunk these artifices, think what a Billy Connolly or Jason Mountford could do with the affectations of the “interested parties”!

My friend Mike Atkin, who comments a lot on this blog, wrote a beautiful little peice about openess and honesty on a pension play pen thread on linkedin.

Fascinating to see that our politicians are to impose a duty of candour on Doctors and Nurses.

I understand there already is one which if not complied with precludes them from further practice.

I would imagine our Doctors and Nurses would be pleased to see a duty of candour placed upon Health Service Managers rather than allowing them to bribe whistleblowers with compensation agreements.

I further suspect that such a duty of candour would even more appropriate for our politicians and maybe even Bankers and to make it relevent to Henrys Playpen – Fund Managers costs and charges and then some.
Could do with some Global Warming up here – its bloody freezin.

Mike writes very cleverly, he articules “honesty” by lampooning “transparency” and every other bastardisation of a true word.

“I further suspect” it’s not just “duty of candour” that comes in for some ribbing- it’s the dreadful “appropriate” and “relevent” not forgetting other high falutin power words like “preclude” and “imagine”.

We must be  careful when we write and speak not to lapse into a vocabulary which which so alienates people. There’s a Mike Atkin just around the corner who’s  just about to say “no thanks” to you.

Because every time we say one thing and mean another, we are creating distrust in the person who we are talking or writing to.

I was speaking yesterday with someone about my new business  explaining that I wanted it to “restore people’s confidence in pensions”. He turned round like it was an Eureka moment… “that’s it”  he said – “that’s what we’re about too”.

He explained that his organisation wanted to be a “force for good”, I could see he meant it. We’d found a common  simple language.

I am sure that even in this article, I have written something which was less than truthful …not a falsehood, but a statement that said one thing and mean something slightly different. Some would call that a nuance, it can be present even in the syntax. Subjunctives and passive clauses say to me

” I can do smart English– can you?”

Which isn’t that smart when you are trying to restore people’s confidence!

My friends who are copywriters and wordsmiths are more aware than I am of how these nuances or “vias” as telesales people call them, create tiny inflections that deviate conversations off course.

Clever people may like navigating these tiny tributaries, they may enjoy circumlocution and revel in obfuscation. But most people find such tactics offensive and will react defensively. Let’s call it “loaded language”.

The best people speak with a plainness that we can find sincere. That’s what the chap was picking up from me when I said I wanted to restore public confidence in pensions and what he wanted me to know about his statement about being a force for good. I think he was saying that he and I should speak to each other plainly.

We really start communicating when we stop playing mind games…which is why “spin” is self-defeating.

actuary

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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7 Responses to Interesting….spin is self-defeating

  1. Mike Atkin says:

    Henry – its Atkin not Aitken – but as you are my friend Mr Tipper I shall forgive you 🙂

  2. George Kirrin says:

    At age 12, Connolly decided he wanted to become a comedian but did not think he fitted the mould, feeling he needed to become more “windswept and interesting”.

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