What’s the Good Word?

The right or wrong word can make all the difference when you’re
trying to achieve your goal. I could write for days about the power of words
and the effect they have on people but I only have about 450 words in this

Keep it real. If you know you are smart, you don’t need to rub it
in my face with fancy big words. If your goal is to be relatable, then you do
not want to alienate your listener.

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My dad is a transfemoral amputee as a result of a traumatic amputation.
He has been retired for more than 10 years now. But back in the day, every once
in a while a new patient, orthotic or prosthetic, used to ask him why he walked
funny or if he had a bum knee. So he would knock on his prosthesis and say,
“I have a wooden leg. I got run over by a truck when I was a little
boy.” I don’t think I ever heard him say “I’m a
transfemoral amputee as a result of a traumatic injuries sustained in a
MVA.” Now, maybe if he was speaking to a physician or therapist he would
have, but I don’t recall any of them ever asking why he walked funny or if
he had a bum knee.

Keep it simple

Keep it simple. This doesn’t mean that you have to limit your
number of words. But it does mean that short, simple words are better at
getting your point across. My dad might not be as well-known as President
Abraham Lincoln but they both had the same idea.

According to salesvantage.com, “The Gettysburg Address is 271 words
long. Two hundred and twenty of them, 81%, are just one syllable.”

Active voice

Keep it active. I don’t know why but a lot of people like to write
in the passive voice. Maybe they think it makes them sound smarter. It
doesn’t. Let’s play a game. We will take some effective marketing
messages and “passive-fy” them. Ready? Nike says “It will just
be done by you.” United Negro College Fund says “It is a terrible
thing to waste a mind.” Perdue says “A tender chicken is made by a
tough man.” It gives you a whole different feeling. When you know what the
original message was the passive message sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

Always positive

Keep it positive. Think about some of the phrases that are being used in
marketing and advertising today. “Preowned” instead of
“used” is a good example. Sounds so much nicer, right? I don’t
know what Abraham Lincoln would say about “preowned” instead of
“used” but I do know that it is a pretty popular way of describing
“used” everything from cars to furniture to clothes. When it comes to
being positive, I think it is more about managing expectations positively. We
want a positive connotation even if we have to use words that might be a little
longer than the ones Ole Abe would have used. And in 2011 “preowned”
has a much more positive connotation than “used.”

As a salesperson, O&P practitioner or administrator, you probably
use a lot of the same “bits” day in and day out. I know I do. The
next time you catch yourself giving your spiel, write it down and see if you
can tell what your words are saying. Are you keeping it real, simple, active
and positive? No? It might just be time to re-read the Gettysburg Address.

For more information:

Elizabeth Mansfield

Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing
Solutions. She can be reached at elizabeth@askelizabeth.net.

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