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Using Abstract Words In Business

Brian Austin
Brian Austin Ambiguity

No matter how successful - or not - a business or organization is within its marketplace, one thing is for sure: most are busy and their employees often have to endure grueling time pressures. Impatience is all too common and the desire to "catch up" often exacerbates the problem. You can't control how someone may react to what you write or say. You can however do much to help make your message clearer.

Therefore, when communicating in business, whenever possible, unless you're working up to some kind of dramatic presentation, most communications are usually best served quickly, directly, simply.

Yet remember, one carelessly placed abstract word can at best, confuse, while at worst cause a total misunderstanding, possibly leading to lost sales! Within these situations, "molehills" often do grow into "mountains" as people may misinterpret what is being said. That's why any work you apply to dealing with abstract words can pay back in more successful outcomes.

Therefore, do take the time and effort to simply be more precise in your choice of words. Get into the habit of using a thesaurus. Contrary to popular belief, to write or speak simply and clearly can be the result of much hard work and several writing "loops", to arrive at a finished work that meets the grade.

That is one reason why our bookstores are full of training books about how to use almost every software product ever created. Rarely does manufacturer-supplied "Help" material properly meet the needs of its users.

Key tip: poor quality Help materials can be good news for observant communicators! Why: if you like demystifying complex software and writing plain English instructions, take note: there are lots of opportunities for earning part-time or full-time income serving end users in "Help" market.

Moreover, artificial intelligence will most likely have problems understanding human subtlties and nuances for many years to come. Get creative and you can stay ahead.

Therefore, choose words that:

  • Specifically identify something or someone precisely to ensure there is no ambiguity.
  • Are familiar to most people or which relate to familiar things.
  • Are already in everyday use by your target readers.
  • Can be clearly understood by your target readers.

To illustrate in more detail, here's a simple example:

  • Writing Sample 1: "...if you choose Option A, perform the following steps."

Instead of:

  • Writing Sample 2: "...whenever this option is preferable, perform the following steps."

Key point: notice that in Writing Sample 1 above, the author is specific and precise ("... choose Option A ...), instead of "general" as shown in Writing Sample 2 ("... this option is preferable ..."). Sometimes, simply through using words like "this", you can introduce confusion. So be mindful of your word choices to create better performing publications and communications in business especially.