Robert Thornton, a professor of economics at Lehigh University in Bethlehem,
PA was frustrated about an occupational hazard for teachers, having to write
letters of recommendation for people with dubious qualifications, so he put
together an arsenal of statements that can be read two ways.
He calls his collection the Lexicon of Inconspicuously Ambiguous
Recommendations. Or LIAR, for short.
LIAR may be used to offer a negative opinion of the personal qualities, work
habits or motivation of the candidate while allowing the candidate to believe
that it is high praise, Thornton explained last week.
You're called upon for an opinion of a friend who is extremely lazy. You don't
want to lie --- but you also don't want to risk losing even a lazy friend.
Try this line: "In my opinion, you will be very fortunate to get this person
to work for you."
To describe a person who is totally inept: I most enthusiastically recommend
this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever.
To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along with fellow workers:
I am pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine.
To describe a candidate who is so unproductive that the job would be better
left unfilled: I can assure you that no person would be better for the job.
To describe a job applicant who is not worth further consideration: I would
urge you to waste no time in making this candidate an offer of employment.
To describe a person with lackluster credentials: All in all, I cannot say
enough good things about this candidate or recommend him too highly.