The idea for this week’s tip came via a polymath colleague, Asher Dahan, Chief Technology Officer of Block Ransomware. He forwarded an article written by Jeff Haden for Inc which identifies five common words that make emails sound indecisive and wishy-washy.
Asher sent it to us because at Eloqui, we can’t bear squishy words that don’t reflect the strength of our clients’ actions. For example, “We help our clients to…” is meaningless. Do you merely help or are you an agent of change? Since we generalize the way you speak is the way you do business, stop and think before you use the following words or phrases.
: When faced with the need for a decision, do you write or say “I think…” Are you unsure? Hedging because you could be wrong? Is it up for debate? Are you seeking support? If you want to display leadership, go to the action statement without qualifiers.
: If you hear “I just need a minute,” don’t you anticipate a long diatribe? If someone says “All you have to do is just…” does it sound like they’re hiding the real difficulty? Just diminishes importance and arouses suspicion as to motive. Excise it from your vocabulary.
: In business or other matters of importance, a guess is of little value. Even best guess sounds like you’re pulling numbers out of a hat, or stalling for time. Substitute words that indicate you’ve examined precedent and can predict outcomes with confidence.
: With command tone, this word conveys urgency and import. But it can also indicate weakness or dependency. Say “Please” if that is your intention. As in “Please wrap this up…” or “Thanks in advance for delivering this by four today.” Be clear and definitive.
: This adverb emphasizes superlatives. But why would a superlative need to be jacked up even more? Do you believe “A very stable genius?” If it’s important, your description will suffice, because use or overuse of very undercuts your veracity. Hemingway despised adverbs (e.g. newly, famously, seemingly) and said they were the tools of a lazy writer.