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Ditch These Super Trendy Hacks

By Theda C. Snyder

To be taken seriously, temper your use of these three super trendy newcomers in your professional vocabulary.

Lawyers are cautioned to stick with plain language, to shun the lawyerspeak replete with jargon and verbiage we learned in law school. But has the pendulum swung too far?

Put another way, did you perceive the title of this post as mockery — or see no problem at all?

Language changes with time. Perhaps the newest words in general use will become generally accepted. Wouldn’t that be groovy? In the meantime, to be taken seriously, temper your use of these vocabulary newcomers.

Super as Adverb

What happened to “very”? Suddenly “super” is everywhere. I counted 14 uses of “super” in one 500-word post. I have no quibble with “super” as an adjective modifying a noun. The first adjectival usage of super meaning first-rate or excellent dates back to 1837. But how did it become an adverb?

I am super excited (sarcastic example here) to tell you that “very” has been used as an intensifier since before Modern English existed. Think of Chaucer’s “verray parfit, gentil knyght.” But only recently has “super” supplanted “very” as an intensifier of an adjective or another adverb.

When you are tempted to use “super” as an adverb, please rethink the impression you leave on the message recipient. “Super” works when complimenting your teenage babysitter; at the interview with a senior partner on the hiring committee not so much.

Hack

Here’s a tip. Hacking is the unlawful accessing of an entity’s information. You probably pay a monthly fee to prevent a hack of your and your firm’s data. Maybe you’ve even been hacked. Remember that Colonial Pipeline paid more than $4 million in ransom to hackers who shut down a major American energy supply.

So why are multiple media promoting and advocating that you use their “hacks”? The word they are looking for is “tip.” When you suggest a helpful solution of which your client or prospect was probably unaware, you could call it a “tip.” Conveying that you are sending a “hack” could provoke a warning signal and result in your message being ignored or even blocked.

A Ditch Is a Hole in the Ground

Avoid. Shun. Discard. These are all better choices for your professional vocabulary than “ditch.” I’ve succumbed to this cutesy word choice myself.

“Ditch” gives your message an informal, breezy vibe. That may work well for social media. Urging a judge or jury to “ditch” your opponent’s arguments suggests a lack of serious purpose.

They’re Called Habits for a Reason

Get to the Point by Teddy Snyder Graphic

More writing tips from Teddy Snyder here.

The problem with the habitual use of language best suited to Instagram is that it creeps into your professional vocabulary. It’s hard to stop using words that are part of your daily vernacular. Get to the Point has suggested ways to break language habits.

Maintaining your professional image includes being articulate. You may choose the latest hip expressions for appropriate settings. But sticking with a traditional vocabulary means you won’t have to struggle with a bad language habit when the latest verbalisms are gone.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workers’ compensation and insurance coverage cases, including COVID-19 related coverage disputes, in person or by video. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 4th Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Amazon.com. Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at SnyderMediations.com and on Twitter @SnyderMediation.

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