I’m nominating a Most Useless Word for 2013. It’s going to be (drumroll, please): “interesting.”
People sucker-punch me with this useless word all the time. I find it to be a faintly arrogant and nondisclosing adjective. Whenever I share my views with someone, I want a real, heartfelt response. I want critical feedback. I want an honest, unfiltered opinion.
“Interesting,” gives me nothing. It feigns curiosity and care, but standing by itself, it’s nothing but a glib cop-out.
Now, if the word “interesting” is thrown out there as a way of getting into the meat of things, that’s okay with me. For example, “Interesting you would say that, Don. It proves you don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “Interesting you bring this up now, Don, since the decision was made a month ago.” These responses pass muster. But I just go nuts when friends or colleagues stick the “i-word” out there all by itself, as a way to shield them from showing any emotion or point of view.
The scariest part of all of this is that I’m finding I may be the worst offender. The word “interesting” has crept into my communication system. It comes out in both social and work situations without warning. So, entering 2013, I pledge to avoid using the word “interesting” as a singular response to the best of my ability, and I ask all of my friends and colleagues to call me on it each time it happens. I’ve even made my own little cheat sheet of helpful alternatives:
“I’m not certain I understand what you’re saying. Can you describe it further?”
“I’m eager to discuss this, but would like some more time to get my head around it. Can we plan to talk later?”
“I love your idea. What’s the next step we can take?”
When I called one of my academically gifted friends, Paul, to ask him to join me in this crusade, he hesitated just long enough for me to figure out what was coming next.
I hung up on him before he could say it.