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How to use plain, precise, and positive language in professional communication

9 Jun 2023

A message that is simple, straightforward, and delivered in a positive way connects with the audience and makes them interested in what you have to say.

Using the right words and phrases can lead to effective, successful business communication. Here are three principles for communicating in plain, precise, and positive language:

Principle 1 - Use simple words and phrases for clarity.

In professional communication, your goal is to make it effortless for your readers or listeners to understand and interpret your message accurately. Plain language focuses on clarity and can be understood by a broad audience. Use simple, familiar words instead of complex or obscure terms to make your message easy to understand.

Here are some examples of complex words along with commonly used alternatives:

Complex: commence

Simple: start, begin

Complex: prior to

Simple: before

Complex: bandwidth

Simple: ability, capacity

Principle 2 - Use specific words and phrases to avoid misunderstandings.

Be as precise as possible and use specific and concrete language. Vague or overly general terms could be interpreted in more than one way. Use words and phrases that convey your message in a precise, concise, and accurate manner.


Let’s look at some examples of general words and ways to make them more precise:

General: as soon as possible

Precise: at 2.00 p.m.

General: Their design is good.

Precise: Their design is brilliant.

General: Our company can help you meet all your goals.

Precise: At SVL Marketing, we offer website design, email campaigns, and posting to social media to help you turn leads into customers.

Principle 3 - Use positive phrasing for positive outcomes.

How you express yourself affects whether your message is received positively or negatively and has a great influence on the response you are likely to get. Use a positive tone wherever you can to ensure that your message is well received. If you find the right words, you can turn any difficult conversation into something proactive and helpful.

Here are three tips which should help you communicate in a positive way:

1.       Use positive language

Don’t say: The attached file is wrong.

Say: Please recheck the attached file.

2. Use positive words and phrases.

Don’t say: Your ideas are weird. (The word weird carries a negative connotation, and it implies that the other person’s ideas are uncommon in a negative way.)

Say: Your ideas are unique. (The word unique carries a positive connotation, and it implies that the other person’s ideas are different in a good way.)

3. Use inclusive language.

Don’t say: businessman, businesswoman (both businessman and businesswoman are gendered nouns)

Say: business executive (business executive is a gender-neutral term)

In summary, simple, precise, and positive language keeps your message clear and reassuring, and it helps you build strong business relationships based on support, respect, and kindness.

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