Stay positive!

I could tell you that my new car isn’t using as much gas as the older model I previously owned, but much like the way I drive, the most direct route is always best. It’s far better to say that my new car saves more gas. Better still would be to say that it’s amazingly fuel-efficient.  Writing should always be direct, telling the reader what is rather than what isn’t. Who wants to hear that they are less offensive when they could be called pleasant?

Keeping statements in the positive asserts authority and directs your readers, depending on where we place the focus. I work with a cosmetic surgeon who uses many new technologies in his practice, such as ultrasonic scalpels and pain pumps, to alleviate pain for his patients. Instead of promoting these advances by saying he is able to “reduce pain,” it’s much better to completely remove the word “pain” and instead say “minimize discomfort.” While it’s important not to mislead, you should focus on the benefits as much as possible.

As another example, instead of saying that a cleaner “leaves no unpleasant odor,” how about it “leaves a fresh scent.” Rather than identifying the product or service with a negative association, we can make positive connections and images in our readers’ minds. Depending on the words we choose, we can soothe the senses or repel and alarm. Lead your readers down a straight path and show them the roses along the way.

“I write as straight as I can, just as I walk as straight as I can, because that is the best way to get there.” — H.G. Wells


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