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#421: Precise Language Is Always In Style

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, October 25, 2010
Updated: Monday, October 25, 2010
I am concerned by the imprecision in consultant communication. Mangling language is important because clients may hear something other than what the consultant meant. Is this just me or is it a growing problem?

It seems to be a growing problem in general as demonstrated by written and spoken comments by politicians, in advertising and in media accounts of events or issues. It may be more likely in consulting communication when attempting to make a message more cerebral or sophisticated than plain English would provide. If your goal is to make sure you are understood by your client, why is it necessary to use longer and a more nuanced word when a simple one, often clearer, would do?

An example: Utilize vs. Use. The two words are different. The first means to make use of something for its intended purpose, the latter to make do with something not normally used for the purpose. Another example: the words forecast, projection, estimate, and extrapolation all have very specific, and different, meanings, yet many people seemingly use them interchangeably.

Tip: Use the simplest language possible, one or two syllable words instead of longer words. If you need a longer word, make sure that you are clear on its meaning and that you can be sure that your written or spoken words are clear to your recipient.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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