Over on the Web site of The Atlantic magazine, journalist Dana Milbank offers some translations of “Washington-speak.” In his short piece (at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200801/millbank), he parses the actual meanings behind the ostensibly milquetoast utterances of some of the most high-profile politicians in the United States. Here’s a small sampling:
“I don’t pay attention to the polls.”
Translation: My job-approval rating is 32 percent.
Translation: The following statement is false.
“The American people don’t want open-ended fishing expeditions.”
Translation: A member of my party is being investigated for wrongdoing.!@!
I found these interesting because they weren’t too far removed from the kind of talk one can hear in offices across the country. Of course, the terminology is somewhat different, but the notion of using rhetoric to tell half-truths or obfuscate real agendas is still ever-present.
Now, this state of affairs probably isn’t news to anyone. But I’m guessing few readers would defend a system rooted in such disingenuousness and sophistry. After all, this kind of communication obviously can be – and is – used to tarnish good employees and protect bad ones. My question to you, learning industry leaders, is what (if anything) can you do to improve this faulty system of communication? Better yet, are you doing anything about it? Weigh in at firstname.lastname@example.org.