GM corporate culture avoids certain words image

Whether you believe it or not, General Motors employees even have a list of banned items, in which certain sensible phrases or words need to be substituted to others… more soft.

Yes, this is what scouring through hundreds of thousands of documents substituted by GM to federal investigators has revealed – there is a banned list of 69 (funny, right?!) catch phrases. Way to go, this should alleviate the 20 million cars – and accordingly, dissatisfied customers – when asking about their problems…sorry, sorry, “conditions”.

The employees of the automaker – which needs to repair all that 20 million cars, face record fines, lawsuits of billions of dollars and even criminal charges – have to stop talking about “defects” and “problems.” The GM new US spelling dictionary says these should be called “conditions” and parts that “do not perform to design.”

“Sometimes, it’s to fight misperceptions, and in some cases it’s pet peeves, and in some cases it’s driven by lawyers,” said Matt Friedman, a partner with Tanner Friedman, a Detroit firm focused on corporate image-building.

GM also advised its engineers not to tell someone “You’re toast,” while driving the “rolling sarcophagus,” – while other such items include the words “life-threatening,” “deathtrap,” ”dangerous,” “catastrophic,” and “explode.”

In the highly litigious prone automotive environment, the GM stance is not singular – as Ford used to describe as a “thermal event” the fact that its 2008 Super Duty pickups could – inadvertently – shoot balls of flames through their exhaust system.