- November 16, 2020
- Posted by: info
- Categories: Blogging, Branding
Language is complex. Words have definitions, connotations, history, and context. No wonder it’s so easy to misrepresent something or someone in writing – and no wonder this could make a significant impact on your business. Whether you’re writing an email, a press release, a report, or a social media blurb, your ability to choose the right word is a necessity in business and everyday life. Here are three tips to help you say what you mean and avoid miscommunicating.
Remember that old tool, the dictionary? Use it to look up definitions regularly. You could find upon reading a word’s definition that what you think you’re saying isn’t what you’re saying at all – which is normal. Our own word usage develops and changes as a result of our experiences, education, age, and personalities. It’s easy to overlook what a word was intended to mean at its basic level.
While you’re looking up definitions, pay attention to primary, secondary, and subsequent meanings of the same word. Your usage might match the third or fourth entry, but if it’s that far removed from the most common meaning, depending on your audience, your intent could be misconstrued.
While using definitions to hone your message is useful, it’s usually not enough on its own. Your audience isn’t necessarily made up of linguists, lexophiles, or mind readers. Help them out by giving details and examples. For instance, if you’re trying to tell your potential clients, your business can be found on social media, list the channels. Social media can mean anything from blogs to Tumblr to Facebook and beyond, so be specific.
Another way to ensure clarity is to note what you’re not saying. For example, we’re saying definitions alone shouldn’t dictate the words you choose, but we’re not saying to undermine the importance of definitions.
Have you ever heard the expression “Content is king, but context is queen”? In the word world, this means words take on meaning according to their association with other words. Sometimes the base definition is overridden entirely by context. For example, the first, most common definitions of “business” are “a person’s regular occupation” and “the practice of making one’s living by engaging in commerce.” But if we say, “It’s none of your business,” the rest of the sentence makes “business” communicate something more metaphorical.
Sometimes the mere order of words morphs meaning. Look at the difference between “I’m writing just one email” and “I’m just writing one email.” The second version could be interpreted as exasperation, as in, “I’m just writing ONE email! Sheesh!” (And while we’re looking at “ONE,” consider how the use of CAPS CHANGES EVERYTHING, as does the use of punctuation!)
You might have come to the end of this article thinking you’ve been under-thinking word choice and that inaccurate wording might account for undesirable, past reactions to your writing. If this sounds like you, then good. It means in the future, you’ll be more mindful of how you craft your messages. And that means you’re more likely to get ahead in your business and career.
Partnering With Rampant Social
When outsourcing your content marketing to Rampant Social, we’ll meet with you to discuss your business goals and learn about your organization, your audience, and your preferences. From there, we can build an editorial calendar tailored to your business. You’ll receive content that’s well-researched, well-written, and published and promoted for you.
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