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Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendaions

Writing letters of recommendation can be hazardous—tell the truth and you might get sued if the contents are negative. Robert Thornton, a professor at Lehigh University, has a collection of “virtually litigation-proof” phrases called the Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations, or LIAR.

Here are some examples:

  • To describe an inept person—”I enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever.”
  • To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along with fellow workers—”I an pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine.”
  • To describe an unproductive candidate—”I can assure you that no person would be better for the job.”
  • To describe an applicant not worth consideration—” I would urge you to waste no time in making this candidate an offer of employment.”

Larry Pryor in Los Angeles Times

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