The Three Extremely Worst Errors Sometimes Made in Communication


Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.   –  C.S. Lewis

This quote by author C.S. Lewis is one to keep at the forefront of your mind, both when writing and when preparing material for a presentation.  It is tempting to think that selecting a complex word will enhance your message, but that is not always the case.    Select the words that say exactly what you mean.  Once you’ve made your point, stop.

2. Lack of SPECIFICS

Some so speak in exaggerations and superlatives that we need to make a large discount from their statements before we can come at their real meaning.
-Tryon Edwards

A superlative is an adverb or adjective that suggests the most or least of something.  Once you have written your text, whether for an advertisement, business correspondence, presentation or website content – go back through and remove every use of a superlative – such as “best” “worst” “greatest”.  These words are overused so much that they are skimmed over by the reader.  What to do instead?  Give specifics.

Instead of: “We have the greatest staff in the Valley!”

Use: “Last year, our staff received five out of five stars in customer satisfaction!”

3.  Lack of STRENGTH

I noticed a little while ago that I was using the word “just” and the phrase “sort of” in my writing. All the time, in fact. In my last book, a search and replace removed more than 80 unnecessary ‘justs’.    – Seth Godin

Wishy-washy words are silent but deadly killers of good communication.  You barely notice them, but by the time you’ve finished reading a piece that is littered with them, you are exhausted and you don’t know why.  They are often, but not always, the words called “qualifiers” in grammar.

Which sentence reads more strongly?

Option 1: “I think we have one of the best solutions available for your project.”

Option 2: “Our solution achieves your project objectives.”
These are easy fixes to make, and appear in all forms of communication – from Tweets to Thank You Letters.  It won’t take long before you’ll notice them everywhere they have been sneaking into your writing.  With practice, you’ll find your writing is stronger and has more impact.

Happy Selling!


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