Avoid “Blessed” and “Bang for the Buck”

In yesterday’s Better Business Writing class, participants shared two examples of language to avoid: "blessed" and "bang for the buck." I think their cautions are worth passing on.

In the first example, an employee has been sending email with "Have a blessed day," and her coworkers have been buzzing about it. That close is wrong in business communication unless the organization is a church or other religious organization. Even then, if the employees of the organization are not all of the same religion, "Have a blessed day" is inappropriate.

What could possibly be wrong with "Have a blessed day?" It’s wrong because individuals should not be subjected to other people’s religion or religious sentiments in business communication–at least not in the United States. Alternatives are "Have a wonderful day," "Have a great day," "Have a perfect day," etc.

Even if the sender is communicating with one person for whom "Have a blessed day" is a welcome sentiment, email is often forwarded. It was a forwarded message that created the stir I heard about in yesterday’s class.

Far from "blessed" on the refinement spectrum is "bang for the buck." A class participant told us about a colleague who used the expression at a business meeting in France. When he uttered the phrase, people in the room visibly shrank from him in apparent disgust, perhaps because the word bang is vulgar slang for sexual intercourse. The U.S. businessman would have been more successful with "return on our investment," which is what he intended.

Have a lovely day!

Syntax Training

P.S. For North American readers, the next Better Business Writing workshop takes place in Marysville, Washington (north of Seattle), on November 14.