Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Just say it already!


Corporate Alphabet
Originally uploaded by Kate_A

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that on occasion I rant a little bit.  Well, this is one of those days, spurred on by a discussion with a LinkedIn pal (thanks, Norman!)  Spare me the technobabble or the intellectualized gobbledygook - just say it already!

Norman was talking about the value of experts and their studies (we were questioning it, actually) when he  wrote:
"Must say, I'm impressed by anyone who begins the summary of their conclusions with . . .

'Naturally, our correlational findings are causally ambiguous.' " 
See the excerpt from the original article here.

"Causally ambiguous?" This goes to two points:

  1. The expert is discounting the study's content, after the entire study was described in detail, and
  2. Tell us in plain language!  If the expert had made his point clearly he would have said - "we don't know, or this study didn't really tell us anything."
As for point number one, I think we need experts to study things.  Niches of specialized information create opportunities that the average person doesn't have time (or the interest) to pursue.  Not every study will pan out with results that validate our assumptions.  In my mind, no problem there.

As for point number two - why not just come out and say it?  Is it necessary to wrap an idea in a flowery package in order for it to be perceived as smart enough?  I say no, and if you dispute that point you're apparently not smart enough to get my point. ( hehe.)  I'm not advocating that you "dumb things down,"   but why engage in verbal obfuscation?  (Obfuscation - that word just rolls off the tongue!)

Hey, I read - a lot.  I have a pretty big vocabulary.  (No brag - I'm going somewhere with this...)  I understand the words.  But why is it necessary for some people to stand on a pedestal and rain fifty-pound words on other people's heads?

I'm thinking that it's not about communication - which is a two-way process.  It's about doing a performance, a monologue.  Gotta tell you that I won't be clapping - except maybe because I'm glad it's over.

1 comment:

Norman said...

Hi Julie,

As a consultant, I'm predisposed to begin the answer to every question with, "It depends" because we live in a "fuzzy" world, where very little is black or white.

How many times have you been lulled into accepting what someone says, just because they say it with confidence? I want people to ask questions – hard questions – to help ensure we understand all of the fuzziness of an issue.

Perhaps the expertise we should value is the ability to ask the question no one has yet thought of, or to your second point, the question which forces simple, clear explanations?