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  • Writer's pictureYvonne Root

Words, Choose Them Wisely

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

Words are precious

Words are very precious and using them wisely sets you apart. When you own a construction contracting business, you must communicate many different things in many different ways. And, while you need not have a degree in English Language Arts, it is a good idea to understand how using the language well in a variety of circumstances can set you apart from the crowd.

Therefore, we’re going to dive into five things to keep in mind about words:

  1. Contracts that are the best they can be

  2. Marketing that hits the mark

  3. Communicating wordlessly

  4. Avoiding empty words

  5. Swearing consciously

Words in Contracts

When it comes to construction contracts, there are a few words you need to keep in mind. They are, “Who’s the best construction knowledgeable attorney in town?” Or words like that.

From writing contracts to approving contracts, a good construction-centric attorney is your best bet. And, if you ever wonder how powerful words can be, try going to court with a poorly worded contract.

So that you get an idea of why engaging the correct attorney is so important I offer this:

One day in Contract Law class, the professor asked one of his better students, “Now if you were to give someone an orange, how would you go about it?”

The student replied, “Here’s an orange.”

The professor was livid. “No! No! Think like a lawyer!”

The student then recited, “Okay, I’d tell him, ‘I hereby give and convey to you all and singular, my estate and interests, rights, claim, title, and advantages of and in, said orange, together with all its rind, juice, pulp, and seeds, and all rights and advantages with full power to bite, cut, freeze and otherwise eat, the same, or give the same away with and without the pulp, juice, rind and seeds, anything hereinbefore or hereinafter or in any deed, or deeds, instruments of whatever nature or kind whatsoever to the contrary in anywise notwithstanding . . .”

See what I mean? 😉

Marketing Words

Whether you choose to do your marketing in-house or source it out, the words used in your marketing strategy will make the difference in landing the right jobs. Of course, pictures can be vitally important in your marketing efforts. But keep in mind, a few well-chosen words can make good photos shine even brighter.

Be sure to look at the section titled, “Trust-based words,” in this article from FIVESTARS discussing The Top 42 Marketing Words that Tempt and Turn Off Customers. 

While you’re at it, look over the sections titled, “Overused words” and “Words that could get you into trouble.”

No Words

Sometimes you communicate with a close friend or relative with no more than a look. And, even if you’re not a mom, you’ve likely experienced “the mom look.” You know what I mean, Mom gives you “that” look, and you know you better stop doing that or start doing this.

Here are two important things to remember about wordless communication.

  1. Something left unspoken is usually intentionally omitted for a reason.

  2. Something implicit is understood without words.

So, whether your communication is toward employees, subs, general contractors, your friends or family, or your peers, there are times when words are unnecessary and might even dilute the message.

Also, in an intriguing article, by Alison Davis, you’ll find five ways to dramatically improve your communication (without saying a word.) 

Empty Words

One day in early October, a representative of the City of Phoenix dropped by our place to let us know we might have a water leak. He started by explaining that our water usage was much higher in September than it had been in August. “Hum,” said we. “No one lived in this house in August, that likely accounts for the difference in water usage,” we explained.

“Nope,” said he. “This amount of change can’t be explained that way.”

Then the fun began. He used an empty word, a metric that neither Tonya nor I understood. Weird part? Neither she nor I can remember which term he was using. We figured out it was a unit of measure, but it had no place in either of our knowledge banks.

Perhaps he thought we were the “dull crayons” in the box.

The thing is, like most folks, Tonya and I understand two different water usage units of measure quite well. One is gallons. The other is dollars. If at any time the fellow had used either of those terms, we would have readily understood what he was trying so desperately to get us to see.

When the water bill (which uses “dollars” as its unit of measure) arrived, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that there was a water usage problem.

Lesson: When speaking with regular folks about something known well in your industry, don’t expect them to understand the terms associated with it. They will be empty words and not allow you to communicate effectively.

Swear Words

While some swear Sailors can out-swear Construction Workers, we’re not sure that is true. At any rate, I’m not here to tell you not to cuss. I’m here to tell you to choose your words wisely, including your swear words.

The term, “expletive deleted” became somewhat of a joke following the Watergate scandal. (You can find a brief explanation here.)

Be that as it may, there are three good reasons to minimize the use of words that fall into the “cuss” category.

  1. Offending clients or potential clients is at the top of the list. Why take the chance?

  2. Secondly, there are often better words to get the message across. Having a wide variety of words at your command goes far in proving your intelligence.

  3. And lastly, it is the “shock and awe” factor. There are those times when you need to get the attention of your audience quickly and effectively. Throw in a word they’re not accustomed to hearing you use, and you’re likely to get their attention in short order.

Think of it like using pepper as a spice. Some dishes are greatly enhanced through the judicious use of pepper. But too much pepper and the dish is ruined.

The other night (through no fault of my own) I overheard a few men having a long and loud argument. You see, I couldn’t understand most of what they shouted at each other, but for some reason, I could hear them repeatedly telling one another what to do with their sex lives. Perhaps they had a vague notion the words they were using were meant to be offensive. I mean, each of them intended to offend the others. But, because of the repetition and overuse of the same two words just floated into the air, not into the ears of any of the parties involved.

Words are why

And that, my friends, is why I decided to write this article in the first place. Using words wisely makes a difference. It is one way to set yourself apart in the construction industry, or for that matter, in life.

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner through our blog posts. Some are new ways of looking at things, and others are refreshers.

Schulte and Schulte Provides Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735

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