Do You Get It?

business writing by Brittany Moor

I was recently talking to a new client about writing skills training for their team. Her organization had run similar training before, and she told me it could have included more detail. So of course, I asked her to tell me more! She said she was looking for a more targeted approach this time. So, I asked again: “Tell me more. What does a targeted approach look like to you?” 

When my client used these vague, general words, more detail and targeted approach, I knew I had to dig deeper to really understand what she was looking for. 

After probing a second time, she said their past course covered the basics of writing, but it didn’include exercises that allowed participants to use the new techniques and apply the learning to real-life. She wanted participants to see examples from their world and practice the new skills on their own documents. This was something I could understand and work with. 

Think about the words you use. Are you vague and abstract, or concrete? Do the words you choose get your point across with precision and clarity? You know you need to define your acronyms, technical terms and industry jargon, but sometimes you need to look at the other words you use. Misinterpreting a term or being vague can have negative consequences. For example, if I didn’t probe my client for more information, I may have recommended a solution that missed the markwasted her time and money, and damaged my credibility. 

Watch out for these vague words: 

  • Communication
  • Effective or ineffective
  • Efficiencies
  • General emotions like happy, sad, mad and scared
  • Healthy or unhealthy
  • Investment
  • Modify or modification
  • Professional
  • Technical
  • Technology

Listen for this kind of language and be prepared to probe. Think about the context. How is a word being used? What are they trying to say? Similarly, be aware of the language you use. Instead of being abstract, be concrete. 

It’s important to take time to understand people and make sure you’re understood, especially if you’re working together to solve a problemBy communicating with clear, precise languageyou build trust, credibility and respect. Plus, you have a much better chance of making positive change. 

What other words can we add to the list from your world? 

Leave a Reply