Detroit Free Press
Speaking plain English is becoming a lost art in too many workplaces.
Linguists, public relations professionals and management experts were not shocked when a General Motors document surfaced a few weeks ago that includes 69 words that engineers were told not to use when discussing its products.
Words to be avoided included "asphyxiating," "death trap," "disemboweling," "genocide," "grenadelike," and "powder keg."
But some of the advice was more extreme, for example, urging people to use such watered-down language as "does not perform to design" instead of "defect," and "condition" instead of "problem."
In fairness, GM is not the only company to encourage such euphemisms.
Ford, for example, has recalled vehicles at risk of "thermal events," when the diesel engine in the 2008 F-Series Super Duty pickup could result in flames coming out of the exhaust.
Matt Friedman, of Michigan PR firm Tanner Friedman, said such corporate-speak can be the result of trying to fight misperceptions or be driven by lawyers.
"It can create a communication gap between a company and its audiences," Friedman said. "And sometimes it can come across as a company being disingenuous."