One Thing Pete Carroll Hates

Synonyms.

The Seattle Seahawks coach just does not like them. He views synonyms like most people view Brussel sprouts – life is just better if we keep our distance.

In his book, Win Forever, he explains, why he hates Brussel sprouts, I mean synonyms:

We would always strive to create continuity and consistency. We were even very careful to be precise with our language and terminology. I don’t like synonyms and varied definitions when it comes to terminology.”

As someone who is big fan of a Thesaurus, I was a little taken aback (aka bewildered, or discombobulated) when I first saw this from Carroll. What is not to like about a synonym (aka metonym, or equivalent)?

But the more I thought about it, the more I came around to coach’s point of view. Basically what he is getting at, is that he wants his players and coaches to say what they mean. He is not against colorful language or beautiful prose, as long as the words get their point across.

As a writer, teacher, or leader, clarity is very important (or critical, or imperative…okay, I promise that is the last time I will do that). Sometimes, we try to get to fancy with our words. We want to show we have brush strokes like Monet, when finger paints would work much better.

Without clarity, a writer’s message is missed and misleading, a coach’s communication is complicated and confusing, and neither audience has any clue what is occurring. In case you missed the irony there, the previous sentence would have been much better if worded like Carroll:

If you want to communicate effectively, you need to be clear with the words you use.”

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