Welcome to luntzspeak.com. This website is a homage to anything and everything related to doublespeak.
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Usually, when people use the term "doublespeak," they do so in a negative light. They're not flattering somebody. They're not paying somebody a compliment. Instead, they are essentially saying, in so many words, that this person has a forked tongue.
If you have a tongue that is shaped like that of a snake, people are not exactly going to embrace you. People are not going to be warm to you. People, in fact, would we reasonably suspicious and skeptical of whatever it is you are going to say.
This is how people normally view people who talk from both ends of their mouth. They don't exactly know that they are being lied to, that's why they are on their toes. It's as if they are walking on eggshells around every word that comes out of your mouth.
This really is too bad because in the world of politics, people are trained to talk that way. Why? Well, it's not because they want to lie. It's not because they have some sort of agenda and they're trying to put one over people they talk to. While that does happen, for the most part, it's done for a different reason altogether.
A lot of people cannot wrap their minds around this. A lot of people think that as long as you engage in any kind of doublespeak, you are automatically lying. This means that you should not be trusted. This means that people should turn around 180 degrees and run as fast as they can the other way.
This really is too bad because if we understand the reason why doublespeak is not only expected, but in many cases, required in the world of politics and business, we may be able to turn it to our advantage.
This doesn't mean that you're going to train yourself to be a better liar. This doesn't mean that you're going to train yourself to be some sort of extra manipulative person. I'm not talking about that. Get that line of thinking out of your mind. Instead, I'm talking about being able to read the situation in such a way that there can be some sort of win-win situation.
You have to understand that the world of politics as well as the world of business do not usually operate this way.
The Way Things Are
So how do things normally work out? Well, most of the time, the world works on a zero-sum game. That's right. For somebody to win, somebody else has to lose.
Think of the world and all its resources as some sort of giant pizza pie. Now, for your slice to get bigger, somebody's slice has to get smaller. That's just the law of the land. That's just the way it works. That's straight mathematics as far as the zero-sum game theory is concerned.
This really is too bad because people essentially start talking in doublespeak because they do not want to end up with the raw end of the deal. Whatever form it takes, they don't want to get the smaller slice of pizza.
So what do they do? They talk from both ends of their mouth so they can always position themselves for an out.
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They don't want to commit fully because they know that if you commit and you are on the record as wanting to go all the way, guess what will happen? That's right. For whatever reason, whatever it is you anticipated happening will not happen.
It's funny how things work that way. In fact, this is one of the things that you can actually reliably bet on in life and never lose. Seriously.
Our best laid plans may not always work out, but you can bet that if you assume some sort of discouragement or some sort of disappointment down the road, you probably will not be disappointed. That's just part of our DNA as a people. That's just part of our cultural bloodline as a species.
Human beings make all sorts of plans, but at the end of the day, even the best laid plans fall apart. As the old saying goes, life is what happens when you are making other plans. This happens all the time.
This is why people always look for an out. It may not be always obvious, but it's always there because people are smart. Somebody may look dumb as a bag of rocks, but you have another thing coming if you assume that that person is as dumb as you think.
Maybe they haven't thought things through, maybe they don't think in a systematic and methodical way, maybe they just do things out of instinct or habit. Whatever the case may be, the end result is the same. They end up with a larger slice of the pie, and you end up with close to nothing.
It is no surprise that people develop doublespeak in this context. They're always giving themselves an out. They're always trying to position themselves for a better deal later on.
This happens all the time. This happens in many different contexts. This happens with different types of people from all walks of life and in many different types of situations.
At the end of the day, it really all boils down to saying the right things to the right people at the right time to produce the right results when you need it and where you want it.
And it's a really good idea to understand how spin works so that when we engage in any kind of poll-driven or approval-seeking way, we at least understand what motivates us. We at least are put in a position where we can have a clear understanding of the consequences of our behavior.
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This is why Luntz-speak is not a slam against spin. It is not some sort of moral judgment because, at the end of the day, spin talking, as dubious at it may seem to a lot of quarters, is not a moral failing. In fact, it is some sort of coping mechanism.
You have to call a spade a spade. You have to acknowledge it for what it is.
Let's put it this way, a person may use a knife to stab somebody, but that same knife can be used by a surgeon to heal somebody. Do you see how this works?
So spin talking, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad. It really all boils down to context. It also boils down to the level of awareness of people that it's being used on.
If you don't want to be spun around, if you don't want to be manipulated, if you don't want to be played or otherwise tricked, understand how Luntz-speak works. It truly is a wonder because once you realize all the inputs required, you start developing a defense mechanism. You start thinking in a certain way, and you start framing things a little bit differently.
This increases the likelihood that you will not fall for it. It also increases the likelihood that you would be able to detect it to such an extent that you can help others avoid its effects.
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