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From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

Communicating Clearly: Choose Words with Intention Every Time

Communicating Clearly. This is part 2 of a 3-part series by my team editor Barbara McNichol on communicating clearly and writing like a pro.

communicating clearly

During the summer months of June, July and August, I’ll post a 3-part series on helpful writing tips by Barbara. 

Do you find that at times the spoken language slides into your writing, but often the words selected aren’t the exact fit for what you mean? Do you have trouble communicating clearly in your prose?

Consider these sentences:

  • How many executives do what they feel will win approval?
  • The public feels certain people shouldn’t be in the workforce.

Given the context, is “feel” the correct word to express the intended meaning? No, because it doesn’t come from an emotional “feeling” source. Rather, it comes from a conviction based on experience—a place of belief. Because of this, better choices would be:

  • How many executives do what they believe will win approval?
  • The public believes certain people shouldn’t be in the workforce.

Your challenge: Question everything you write against the context. In particular, flag “feel” as a word to watch. Is “feel” the most precise way to convey your intended meaning? If not, pause and find exactly the right one—think, believe, hope, or whichever is accurate.

Today’s Word Trippers for Communicating Clearly:

Allude, elude  To “allude” means to refer to something casually or indirectly. To “elude” means to avoid or escape by cleverness or speed. ”May the force be with you,” the boy said to his friend, alluding to the movie Star Wars. Then they split up to better their chances of eluding the bully chasing them.”

Itch, scratch –The noun “itch” is a feeling on the skin that produces the urge to scratch. As a verb, it means to have a strong desire, a hankering for something, or an unpleasant feeling on the skin. The noun “scratch” is a shallow, narrow cut. As a verb, it means to rub, scrape, or mar a surface (such as the skin) with something sharp. It also means to make a grating sound, withdraw from a competition, earn a living through sacrifice, or eliminate something on a list by drawing a line through it.  In billiards or pool, “scratch” means to inadvertently pocket the cue ball.

“While the mosquito bite on my arm itches, I know better than to scratch it and risk further irritation.” – Jill Coolidge

“Even though I itch horrifically with shingles, the doctor warned me not to scratch it or it would scar.” – Ginger Sawatzki

“I want to scratch together enough tuition money by cleaning houses and babysitting.”

“She got so sick with the flu, she had to scratch her participation in the talent show.”

When you know how to write with precision and accuracy, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a word choice guide Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters with details at