I did some writing for an organization recently and the early 20 something person who had requested the writing did an edit on my article and basically added a bunch of unnecessary words. I immediately thought of the famous quote, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have time.” This quote has been attributed to everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Mark Twain to T.S. Eliot. Regardless, they probably all said it at one point because it makes so much stinking sense.
These added words, qualifiers to my article reminded me of my early 20’s. I would have done the same darn thing. When I was starting my career … every email, phone call, request, … anything and everything was filled with qualifiers. It looked like this … “Hey Boss, do you think maybe, if you have a second, if you aren’t too busy, can maybe, possibly find time to take a look at my latest prospective for Client A. I mean, I don’t think Client A is in that big of a hurry and could wait because I DO know Jon has that bigger Client that the whole company is focused on right now. But I would really appreciate any time you might, maybe have to offer to me with Client A. Thank you soooooooo much.”
Phew, that was painful to type. But honestly … thinking of me at 23 … that’s probably not too exaggerated.
As I’ve aged gracefully, I’ve deleted qualifiers consistently from my communications. Or so I think. Imagine my surprise last week in building introduction emails to a couple of new clients to find on the proof-reads, my emails cluttered with qualifiers. YUCK! I got them deleted appropriately but none the less, they were there…
Why does this matter? The qualifiers make us look and feel ‘less than.’ Why was I adding them? Am I not as confident as I like to think I am? Maybe. There’s always more work to do around our personal worthiness. Is it a bad habit? Sure. Is it simply human nature? Absolutely.
A place where I know so many people add qualifiers is on the request for a sale and/or payment. “When you get a second, could you please pay Invoice XYZ by said date.” I do it all the time and then re-type it to say, “Please Pay Invoice XYZ upon receipt.” Easy! When you’re typing an email … but what about on the phone or in person … eye to eye? It’s rare to record a conversation, do you even know if you’re using qualifiers in discussion? How confident do you think you are coming across if you are using qualifiers?
Are you actively paying attention to the qualifiers you’re using? Listen to others and start counting. Is this a habit you should work on? Do I make the case for proof reading all emails you send? Was using qualifiers a learned behavior in your cultural upbringing? Maybe a form of adding politeness? Your use of qualifiers is worth studying.
I wasn’t about to allow my article to be published with added qualifiers, especially ones that weren’t mine. Luckily, as a coach, I could see through the added words of this very bright young woman to see that her qualifiers were trying to tell a different story, one more suitable to her and the organization’s current needs. I offered to do a new article after some further discovery discussion and I must have hit the mark as this time, there was no editing or added qualifiers suggested.
Cheers to writing shorter emails and actively deleting qualifiers from your communications!!