The total of repetitions of ‘Strong and Stable’ by the Prime Minister in interviews is currently running at well over 40 .
Lynton Crosby has dictated that these are the magic words: that they will clearly imprint the electorate with an indelible impression of competence.
Well, let no platitude escape our attention.
These are still groovily popular Leadership words in business, too.
And they are just as platitudinous, counterproductive, and misleading, in the workplace context.
The very human responses to this strategy are appearing as the election campaign wearily lumbers into first gear.
Robotic repetition generates an atmosphere of tetchiness, sarcasm, and then anger.
It stops any form of dialogue.
If the same words are used constantly in response to different approaches and questions, then the person making the approach experiences the relationship equivalent of a door continuously slammed in the face.
We’ve heard ‘another galaxy’ from Mr Juncker, and now Mr Verhofstadt is getting mighty close to trying to say… ‘stupid’.
Repetition is, in effect, a signal of contempt.
Remember that fabulously effective childhood long- car- journey game? Achieve deep parental insanity by rhythmically repeating a word (any word) until it loses its meaning.
Those listening just lose the will to live.
(And the words are so old fashioned, aren’t they? They are favourites of yesterday’s Business gurus, who loved to use military metaphors for office life. Which would you rather have – ‘strong and stable’ or – perhaps – ‘wise and responsive’? )
The car journey isn’t over.
There are many more repetitions to suffer.
A dear colleague reminded me of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation the other day.
‘…….Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’
What a deliciously sinister image.