I Don’t Get It – Vague References

I don’t get why so many workplace communicators still prefer vague words or phrases. Whether the choice is conscious or not, ‘specific beats vague’ every time.

Using vague references suggest that the writer or speaker doesn’t know enough to be specific, doesn’t care about it or doesn’t want to be accurate. None of these reactions helps project an image of competency or credibility. Specific references are clearer, easier to decode consistently and more credible. For example …

  • Turn ‘ … more than a little bit over plan.’ into ‘ … 27% over plan.’.
  • Change “… several projects account for most of the overtime …” into “… six projects account for 73% of the overtime …”.
  • And opt for “… 30 complaints from 13 customers …” instead of “… lots of complaints from several customers …
  • Even a range is better than a vague word when you don’t know for sure – ‘Expect the package within five to seven days.’ is still better than ‘ … within several days …’.

I do get specific over vague and so will your readers and listeners … but, do you?








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  • Simply put, Phil lives and breathes communication … it’s what he teaches, it’s what he understands, and it’s what he has made his passion. Jeff Nischwitz, PresidentThink Again Coaching
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