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Do you use weasel words? I don’t mean furry critters that go through your garbage “of a night,” as they say in Missouri. Weasel words are ambiguous terms and phrases, like “popular opinion,” “dynamic,” or “completely satisfied.” These words and phrases, rather than providing clarity, complicate and cloud your message.

Weasel words get their name from the crafty weasel, reported to suck eggs without breaking the shell. Similarly, weasel words suck the meaning out of your messages, making them much less effective. If you communicate with phrases like “highest quality,” “prompt service,” or “highly qualified,” you may be weaseling.

Before you write, ask yourself, “What exactly am I offering?” If you believe your product is “the highest quality,” don’t use that cliché, detail the service you provide. Tell your customers that you represent only A-rated carriers and briefly explain a rating. Or describe the customized insurance profile you offer your potential clients. This offers much clearer information than using an empty phrase.

If you offer prompt service, you could say “We return all phone calls within 24 hours.” Everyone, no matter what product they are buying, wants to be a priority purchaser. This clear message tells them, “We are so committed to excellent service that we offer you this promise.”

“Highly qualified” doesn’t explain the depth of your expertise. “Over a decade meeting the insurance needs of my community” gives potential clients a clearer look at your knowledge.

What about “with all due respect”? (You know you’re about to get hammered when you hear this one, don’t you?) If you disagree with someone’s opinion, don’t bother telling them that you respect them. State your case and then offer, in a final paragraph, to discuss their concerns with them personally. This leaves the door open for more communication.

Weasel words weaken your communications. Although you may be an excellent writer, a professional writer offers you an objective edge. She can take your raw copy and help you develop communications that are specific and tailored to your audience.

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