Monday, June 13, 2016

Words to avoid

As part of any manager's role is writing documentation. As a line manager, you might write procedures or standards. As a director you might write directives or vision goals. At the CIO level, I write a lot of executive briefings for other leaders or for our Board.

Over my career, I have learned a few things about effective communication. For example, use active voice. "Passive voice should never be used by you." So I was interested to read "15 words to eliminate from your vocabulary to sound smarter" from Business Insider. As the title implies, these are 15 words to avoid in any communication, written or spoken:


  1. That
  2. Went
  3. Honestly
  4. Absolutely
  5. Very
  6. Really
  7. Amazing
  8. Always
  9. Never
  10. Literally
  11. Just
  12. Maybe
  13. Stuff
  14. Things
  15. Irregardless


Several of these words lessen your credibility. One example is "Honestly." A colleague outside of work uses "Honestly" in his emails. I am sure he means to use it as a kind of "break" in his writing, or perhaps to lend emphasis to his next statement. But I find it often negates what he just said. If you are only now being honest with me, should I ignore what you wrote previously?

Consider what words you use in your communication. A few word replacements can add impact and raise awareness.

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