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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!


Follow Up Some More

We recently talked about the importance of follow up when you provide a prospective customer a quote. I am sure that since then you have been quite fanatical about following up after the quote, right? Well, this tip takes it one step further.

When a prospective client tells you that he has chosen a different solution or has decided to go ahead with your competitor, schedule them for a follow up. Even if they decided to get the retaining wall done by someone else or they have decided to have their car repaired by another mechanic, there still might be opportunity to get business. And you don’t want to miss out.

In the follow up call, reintroduce yourself. Ask if they did in fact get the work done that you quoted and ask how things are working for them. You will be surprised at how many of these jobs got delayed, never happened or the results that the prospect hoped to realize never came about. This means you might still have an opportunity to do some business. The worst case scenario for you in taking this step is that they got the work done and your competitor did a great job. There is still a win for you in making this phone call. You show the client that you are still interested in them.