Bad Language: How to Diminish Your Persuasive Powers

Some language and phrases used in today’s persuasion conversations should be abolished, no matter what.

Here are three examples:

  1. “At the end of the day … ”

    At the end of the day … what? You come home from work, you do stuff and you eventually go to bed. This phrase makes no sense and serves no purpose in your persuasion arsenal. Avoid. Always.

  2. “I’m just sayin’… ”

    I’m unclear as to when or where this phrase came into vogue, but its usage seems to have increased in recent years — usually as the universal get-out-of-bad-behavior line. People think they can make rude or inappropriate comments as long as they preface or conclude them with, “I’m just sayin’… .” Here’s what not to say in persuasion situations: “I’m just sayin’ that your idea doesn’t exactly solve the problem.” Or this: “Your team is incompetent and plain wrong; I’m just sayin’.”

  3. “LOL,” “JK,” “IMHO,” “LMAO,” “TTFN” and “TTYS”

    Others might not appreciate or even understand such abbreviated phrases. (I had to Google “TTYS,” which means “talk to you soon”). Text-speak is unprofessional and should not be used in written business correspondence, let alone in face-to-face interactions. I read about a mother who was texting her teenage daughter’s friend, whose own mother had recently passed away. In an attempt to comfort her, she signed off on one message with “LOL,” thinking it meant “lots of love.” She was horrified when she found out it actually means “laughing out loud”! Along similar lines, I once found myself explaining “LMAO” to my mother.

If you find yourself employing any of the above, make a mental note and find different ways to express yourself.

Language is like anything else: It requires practice. I try to verbally convey my point on three different levels. One uses simple language (“happy”), another involves slightly more elaborate language (“elated”), and the third encourages the use of multiple syllables and/or the creative side of my brain (“exuberant”). Or how about “help,” “comfort,” and “assuage.”

Work on establishing these three levels of language based on what is appropriate for a particular target. It’s fun, isn’t it? Or amusing. Or even enthralling.

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