Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Formula for Seizing People’s Attention When Expressing Your Indignation; New York Judge Jeffrey Spinner’s “Piercing” Words

One of the benefits of possessing a powerful vocabulary is that when you are really indignant, it is easier to capture everyone’s attention. [No wonder I have devoted an entire section on words for “Specifying Criticism or Disapproval” in my book, The Articulate Professional – 3rd Edition (2008).] A New York judge’s criticism last week of a bank for its apathy and indifference (in its dealings with a customer facing foreclosure) was so piercing, thanks to his liberal use of out-of-the-ordinary and high-caliber words, that it made national headlines.

Here is some of Suffolk County Judge Jeffrey Spinner’s opinion, as reported on “ABC World News with Charlie Gibson”: He called the bank’s behavior “repugnant” and accused it of “inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious, and opprobrious” conduct, as well as “duplicity… intransigence… and a condescending attitude.” Saying that “each and every proposal (made by the customer), no matter how reasonable, was soundly rebuffed” by the bank, the judge decided that “the appropriate equitable remedy was to simply cancel the loan."

A note of caution with regard to oral communication: As I stress in my seminars and in my book, when speaking, it’s not a good idea to spew out uncommon words in the manner of a fusillade, because that gives the audience acute listening indigestion and creates a deep aversion toward the speaker. In oral communications, use high-caliber words sparingly and with synonyms (or synonymous phrases), antonyms, and split-second pauses to help ensure everyone in the intended audience understands your message fully.


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