To be honest with you

By | April 6, 2004

Old habits die hard. Even more so is the habit of flogging marketing buzzwords at the drop of a hat.

In a recent worldwide survey of 5,000 people in more than 70 countries by The Plain English Campaign, an independent group “fighting for crystal-clear language and against jargon, gobbledygook and other confusing language”, phrases like “at the end of the day”, “to be honest with you”, “with all due respect” and “it’s not rocket science” were voted as some of the most irritating cliches in the English language.

“Using these terms in daily business is about as professional as wearing a novelty tie or having a wacky ringtone on your phone,” the campaign’s spokesperson criticised.

With all due respect, these probably pale in comparison to what one would hear at a typical presentation by a technology company.

“End-to-end solution” – excuse me, from which end to which end? “Industry best practices” – yes, can you be less vague and name those practices? “Paradigm shift” – I’m sorry, is that some kind of geological phenomenon like a tectonic shift?

To be honest, there’s no denying that cliche-riddled marketing speak can only get you so far. At the end of the day, it’s the substance that counts. While it’s not rocket science, technology companies should simplify their marketing messages and stop pelting the media with sexy terms that will cause a paradigm shift of the impression of the company or the speaker.

Maybe then, we will respond with another cliche: “I hear what you’re saying.”

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One thought on “To be honest with you

  1. Anonymous

    When I say “to be honest with you,” I’m about to say something I would really rather not say. But I will tell you, and it will probably hurt. Just watch my eyes and my body language if I really don’t mean it.

    Tech phrases now are so PR-ish. End-to-end. Turnkey solutions. Paradigm shift.

    “Paradigm shift” has noble origins. Thomas Kuhn would be upset at the way it’s sprinkled liberally all over the place.



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