Why We Hate Legal & Corporate Documents & How We Can Improve Them

Filed Under (NLP life coaching) on 01-01-2016

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Why do most of us hate legal and corporate documents? How can we help improve them?

Most of us hate legal and corporate documents simply because they’re confusing. Why are they confusing?  Because they’re vague.  And they’re vague because of the language used in them. At times we think in words and concepts about the world [the dissociated (objective) perspective] rather than interacting directly with the world around us [the associated (subjective) perspective].  To do this we use language that will represent our thoughts and ideas and reflect our sensory input.  If the language we use is not specific and/or not sensory, it is called digital language.

Digital language has at least three groups:

  • jargon
  • nominalizations
  • euphemisms and obfuscations


Each group, society, culture develops specific language patterns and shorthand language – jargon.  The function of jargon is to:

  1. make communicating shared concepts and ideas easy
  2. build group cohesion and rapport [through language matching]
  3. indicate who is in the group and who is an outsider.

As you learn about any subject you’ll gradually learn the terminology and jargon associated with it.  The very name Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a perfect example of jargon from the field of NLP.  And NLP is the perfect example of another thing we do with jargon: three-letter abbreviations.  We create TLAs as shortcuts for cumbersome word formations.


…are the next group of digital language.  Nominalizations are nouns.  A dynamic process happening over time has been transformed into a “thing” and become static.   For example:

  1. to understand [verb] – understanding [noun]
  2. relate [verb] – relationship [noun]
  3. to behave [verb] – behavior [noun]
  4. communicate [verb] – communication [noun]
  5. to resolve [verb] – resolution [noun].

Practical example:

You may have concerns about your communication as there is some confusion about what precise manifestations of your behavior produce difficulties in your relationship.  The coming together of two personalities is often the cause of disagreements, especially if there’s little understanding of the concept of rapport.  Although you have a willingness to create  true mutuality at the level of personal openness, the actuality is not your preference.  So in the interests of greater awareness the development of your abilities in the comprehension of linguistic structures will give you an increase in satisfaction in this area.

Sounds corporately familiar?  Wait for the next group!

Euphemisms and obfuscations

There is a common tendency to speak of unpleasant or embarrassing things in euphemisms.  A euphemism loses its softening qualities over time and then takes on the original potency of what was being avoided [or obfuscated].  For example, the word ‘redundant’ is now common.  Originally a euphemism, it has taken on the full impact and therefore we need other word formations to soften the blow.

Why have I gone into the detail of this?  To get back to the point of this article.   To show you what many legal, financial, and other corporate documents are full of.  Besides this they are written in an obscure way using many arcane words and archaic sentence structures.  Attempts to cover every possibility [and the corporate ass] often lead to a mass of words which confuses the reader.  And the fact that these documents are tremendously impersonal is another byproduct of digital language.

How can we improve corporate documents?

  • Use more sensory specific language.
  • Cut back on jargon.  You, the writer, know what your jargon describes.  But your readers may not!
  • Reduce using abbreviations.  They exude impersonal aura.
  • Use words that are short, sharp, and to the point instead of long polysyllabic words of Latinate base.
  • Use verbs rather than nouns when you’re describing a process.  Talk about how you can relate in future rather than about an ongoing relationship.
  • Use active sentence constructions.  Say we have observed that… instead of it has been observed that…

The obvious benefits are that people will be clearer about what they read.  And when people have matters clearer, there’re no misunderstandings, and corporate ass-covering will not need to be an [expensive] issue.

Tell me how I can help you more with NLP to improve legal and corporate documents. I also work as a proofreader!

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