Anyone who ever lived in an apartment or a college dorm knows that toothpaste offers a fast way to hide nail holes and other small injuries to the walls. And anyone who has ever tried to sell a house has probably heard that slapping a quick coat of paint on the walls can make the house look newer and fresher. Everyone who visits a dentist subjects his or her teeth to the most vigorous brushing an hour before the appointment. We also seem to have a growing percentage of the population who thinks a body spray can replace a good-old-fashioned shower.
Those are all quick cover-ups, and we all know that they don’t really fool anyone. Oh, they might divert our attention, but when we look (or sniff) more closely, we see the truth very clearly.
Same goes for people who don’t want to use “negative” words, so they substitute more “positive” ones in their place. Try to write a committee report than mentions problems, and invariably, someone will chime in with, “instead of calling them ‘problems,’ what if we call them ‘challenges’?”
That’s a softer approach, but softer generally isn’t as effective. If part of your role is to convince people that something is a problem, you shouldn’t hide that problem under politically correct verbiage. As the old saying goes, call a spade a spade. Being frank may not be as fuzzy, but it’s a heck of a lot more communicative and effective.