The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.
George Orwell in
Politics and the English Language, 1946
Establish the habit of slowing down your responses to questions, to save time and trouble. A simple and effective way to do this is by training yourself to respond to every question with a clarifying question. This gives the questioner a chance to explain why they asked and what they are trying to accomplish. You’ll be surprised how often the quick answer you might have given would not have helped them –or you– at all.
Suppose, for example, you shipped that big report yesterday, just as you had promised. Today the client telephones and asks, “Have you (more…)