"Attorney Ficks has transmogrified the facts," said my adversary in his closing argument. "He did what?" replied the arbitrator.
"He transmogrified the facts." The perplexed arbitrator then asked, “what does that mean?"
"Well," said the attorney, "he has twisted the facts to fit his case."
The arbitrator's response? "Then why didn't you just say that?"
Exactly. Why didn't you just say that? When I first heard the word, I thought it was entirely made up. About one month later, I came across the word in a New York Times article. Then, and only then, did I believe it was real.
For kicks, I later used the word in a settlement letter submitted to a judge/mediator. When the attorneys gathered in the judge's chambers for the mediation session, he asked me what the word "transmogrify" meant. After cheerfully explaining it to him (with my newfound knowledge), the judge pointedly told me to "never" use that word again. Lesson learned.
A recent British survey revealed some of the most irritating business jargon. “Low-hanging fruit,” “think outside the box,” “touch base” and “stay ahead of the curve,” made the top 10 list. “Game changer,” “drill down,” “ballpark figure” and “playing hardball” were in the middle of the no-fly list, along with “riding the wave” and “level the playing field.” And the not-so-surprising, but most validating, takeaway? 90% of those surveyed believe that people use such lingo to hide the fact that they simply don’t understand what they are talking about.
Setting aside that one isolated misstep with the judge/mediator, I'm not a big fan of speaking or writing in jargon-tongue. I'm also not trying to hide anything. With that in mind, I'd like to share a few jargon-free thoughts which have served me well over time, ones I seem to lean on more during these tumultuous times.
Live what you teach and love what you preach. Give more, expect less, while forgiving more and grudging less. Humble more, preen less. Love and listen more, hate and speak less. Include more, exclude less, while believing more and doubting less. Read more, scroll less, while showing up more and checking out less. Smile and dream more, scowl and dread less. And for your physical and mental health, move more and sit less
Transmogrification? Low hanging fruit? I don’t think so. Just some plain-speak that may work for you. I invite you to be curious.
Carl Ficks helps busy professionals and their teams get back in the fitness game to reduce stress and increase productivity. He practiced law in New Britain for many years and is a proud member of the Generale Ameglio Society. He has run and cycled thousands of miles and competed in dozens of races, so when you're ready to get back in the game, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.