Friday, March 10, 2017

Written and Spoken Credibility Killers, Part 2

Last week’s post about Written and Spoken Credibility Killers hit home with many of you so we thought we’d do a follow-up post. Thomas Greve, a business development manager at EMS World wrote in, “Spot on Hank. Another pet peeve is ‘lets' nip it in the butt.’ Say what?? It is nip it in the bud as in plant reference. Drives me nuts.’”

Thanks Tom. We know many of you are extremely busy professionals who do the bulk of your writing and thinking over the weekend. Before you do, we’d like to share a few more credibility killing red flags that seem to trip up even the most intelligent and articulate of business leaders.

Look at the paragraph below. How many errors do you see?

Irregardless of where you sit on this issue, we should take positive steps towards making less grammatical errors in our daily communications.
After apprising the situation, it seems to be a continual problem in business today. By correcting these common errors, you’ll sound more intelligent and you’ll go much farther down the path of being a respected business communicator. If nothing else, that will insure you’ll be complemented for your sterling intrapersonal skills. 

If you didn’t find at least six errors, then you’re not trying hard enough!
Here are some other common misuses (and abuses) of every day language in business today that I’ve assembled courtesy of the good folks at Chartec,, and How many of these grammatical gremlins and oratory oversights sound like you?

·         Accept vs. Except

Accept- (verb) to agree with, take in, receive. Example: We accept your decision.
Except- (preposition) Apart from. Example: All committee members are present except for Ms. Brown.

·         Adverse, vs. Averse

Adverse - (adjective) Unfavorable, opposing one’s interest. Example: They found themselves in adverse circumstance.
Averse -(adjective) Antipathy, repugnance, having the feeling of being opposed. Example: She is not averse to increasing her workload.

·         Affect vs. Effect

Affect - (verb) to influence something. Example: How will that affect the bottom line?
Effect - (Noun) the result of (Verb) to cause something to be Example: Her speech had the effect of motivating the listeners.

·         Apprise vs. Appraise

Apprise - (verb) Give notice to. Example: Please apprise me of the situation.
Appraise - (verb) determine the worth of something. Example: The ring was appraised before we purchased it.

·         Beside vs.  Besides

Beside - (preposition) at the side of, next to , near. Example: Take a seat beside me.
Besides - (adverb) Furthermore, in addition to. Example: Besides, several of us will be out of town next week.

·         Compliment vs.  Complement

Compliment – (Verb) To give praise. Example: I complemented Steve on his speech.
Complement – (Verb) To complete something or match it well. Example: Her skills complement the needs of our department.

·         Continual vs.  Continuous

Continual – (adjective) Often repeated, very frequent – but occasionally interrupted. Example: They've received continual complaints.
Continuous – (adjective) Uninterrupted. Example: We couldn't hear over his continuous talking.

·         Discreet vs. Discret

These two can create some awfully funny incorrectly worded sentences. “Discreet” means having discretion; that is, being careful in what you say or do. But “discrete” means separate or distinct. (Example – I would prefer we kept our relationship discreet since we do not have a discrete office setting.)

·         Different than vs.  Different from
Although these seem to have become interchangeable, many people still require that formal written English fit the following: use “different from” when comparing two things, and use “different than” when you use a whole clause to create the comparison. (Example – Your format looks different from mine. Perhaps this is because the format I used is different than the most common business letter formats.)

*** NOTE, Hank Berkowitz was the featured guest this week on Josh Patrick’s Sustainable Business podcast. The topic was Thought Leadership Content.

·         Farther vs.  Further

Farther – (adverb) At or to a greater distance. Example: We are located farther down the highway.
Further - (adverb) More or additional – but not related to distance. Example: We need to have a further discussion on that.

·         Fewer vs.  Less

Fewer – (adjective) Of a small number, only used with countable items. Example: He made fewer mistakes than last time.
Less – (adjective or adverb) To a smaller extent, amount or degree – used with quantities that cannot be individually counted. Example: If they made less noise, we could concentrate.

·         Lay and lie

The key difference between these two words is intent or will. It involves a choice – a person or animal, etc. can choose to lie upon something, but a book or pencil cannot choose to lay upon something. Someone must put it there. Also, another clue is that “lay” always has a direct object. (Example – Before I lie down to sleep each night, I lay my book on the nightstand.)

·         Principal, Principle

Principal –(noun) Person who has controlling authority. (adjective) Something essential or important. Example: Let’s talk about the principal reason we’re meeting today.
Principle – (noun) Basic truth, policy or action. Example: It’s important to stick to our principles.

·         Regardless, Irregardless

Regardless – (adjective or adverb) In spite of. Example: We are leaving regardless of whether you’re ready.
Irregardless – This is not a word. (Yes, you may find it in your dictionary, but you’re only embarrassing yourself if you use it.)


Your clients and followers don’t expect perfection every time you communicate with them. But, keeping these credibility killers in mind (or posted near your computer or tablet) will go a long way toward keeping them engaged with you and your batting average well above the norm.


TAGS: Credibility killers, poor communication in business, confusing similar words, better business communication

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