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Hedging: It’s Fairly, Relatively, Kind of a Problem

I read a quote in the newspaper today:

If it would be fairly easy to relatively quickly get a fairly similar job with a fairly similar salary, that makes it almost a no-brainer.

Granted, the example is of someone speaking–not writing–but it is a good illustration of what not to do when communicating: hedge.

Hedging is using words such as fairly, relatively, rather, kind of, practically, and almost. Those words deaden a sentence. They sap it of confidence, power, and interest.

Here is a simple revision without all the qualifiers:

When it is easy to get a similar job with a similar salary, it’s a no-brainer.

The Microsoft grammar and spelling checker flags fairly and really, but for the other hedge words, you need to watch for them yourself. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to rather quickly find them.

Syntax Training

P.S. I hope you caught my hedging in the last sentence!

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.