Defeating Prevarication and Stating a Position Improves Your Credibility

You are a writer.

OR

In my opinion, as you use the written word, then perhaps you should be considered eligible for the title “writer”.

Which statement makes you feel like you really are a writer? Me, telling you that you are a writer or me, waffling about an opinion I have, that maybe, possibly you can be called a writer?

It’s not a hard decision to make. Stating a position clearly and straight to the point without any caveat or ambiguous language makes my position clear to a reader, waffling does not. Adding language such as “perhaps”, “maybe” and Heaven forbid, “in my opinion” makes you appear to readers as if you are not sure of yourself or the position you are taking.

As a writer, you are taking a leadership role in the community of the written word. Many people may read your work, some may comment upon it, some may use it themselves but you as the creator of that piece of work have taken a lead at that point in order to deliver it to the written community. You are the leader so act like one. After all, if you do not truly believe in what you are creating, how can you expect anyone else to buy into your work?

As some of you may recall, I am ex-military having done my bit for Queen & Country in The Parachute Regiment. Long gone are the days of sleeping with a bayonet down my trousers but leadership lessons learned then apply today. Before any mission, whether it be an exercise or operation, officers and senior NCO’s would hold an “O Group”, O standing for orders. Orders issued at the O Group would be clear and imperative so;

“2 section will advance 200 metres to the ridge line and will hold that position.”

“B Company will attack Hill 214 and will destroy all enemy combatants encountered.”

“2PARA will engage and destroy all hostile elements in TAC Area Bravo and will hold until relieved.”

Nothing wishy-washy about that, note the use of the word “will”; it is imperative that these things will be done not that there can be a choice. What O Groups tend to leave out is the detail as to how smaller units will actually do there job in accomplishing a mission. This is where discretion is applied.

Imagine the following order being issued:

“Pathfinder Platoon should try to enter the target building, if possible overcome hostile incumbents so perhaps the remainder of A Company can move up on the right flank provided the enemy have no armour.”

If I was in A Company I’d be deeply unhappy – can Pathfinder Platoon enter the target? Will they even attempt it? Can they overcome the opposition? If they succeed am I going in? If they fail am I going in? What the bloody hell am I doing in the army anyway? I want my mum!

O Groups have the capacity to very rapidly instil high morale and determination to succeed in highly dangerous situations or doom a mission to failure before it has even begun simply by the power of words.

In short O Groups send out a sales message to the Toms (soldiers) – that sales message must be clear; your officers know what they are doing, you know what you are doing and we are going to get this done!

Introducing caveats and conditional phrases is deeply damaging to your message and credibility and this applies in civilian life as much as in the military. We do not notice this so much because what is at stake is not of such high value or importance like your life.