“About” Is Another Example Weak Workplace Communication

Someone sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn whom I did not know and I’m not sure how he found me.

Before accepting I always review the individual’s profile.

The first sentence in the profile read, “I am a versatile professional with about five years of experience…”

It immediately struck me as odd that this self-professed “professional” doesn’t even know how long he’s been engaged in his profession.

This is very un-powerful language.

What’s un-powerful about it?

The word “about!

About” is uncertain language, isn’t it?

In the above LinkedIn profile this professional in his field doesn’t know how long he’s been in his profession?

“About” five years could be 4 ½ years, 5 ½ years? If could even be 3 years or 6-7 years, who knows?

If this individual cannot keep track of how long he’s been in his profession, I have a problem with that.

If this person can’t take a stand on this, what else will he have challenges taking a stand on.

It’s very un-powerful language.

I’m coming up on my 13th anniversary in my own business. October 1st will be 13 years, so I’ve been in my business 12 ¾ years.

That’s definitive and certain.

“About” is not definitive or certain at all.

It speaks someone’s lack of confidence and self-esteem.

It is Un-Power Word #3 in my new series.

Stay tuned for more next week and beyond as I build my repertoire of Un-Power Words.

If you have any pet peeves of Un-Power Words, please leave a comment below and I’ll add them to my list and write my take on them and we’ll build the definitive Communication Power language.

’til next time, make it a great weekend and Communicate With Power!

P.S. – To receive one power word each week sent to your inbox for the next year, 52 Power Words automatically come to you to help you Communicate With Power

3 thoughts on ““About” Is Another Example Weak Workplace Communication

  1. Laurel Miller says:

    Thanks for your perspective Skip!

    I took an entirely different impression from the Linked-In profile you quoted in your email today (25 July 2014). I’d believe that if someone used “about so long” in their experience profile, it meant that he wasn’t about to share personal details — since 2009, as an example may provide too much information to the evil-intentioned — and that he doesn’t’ live his life in LinkedIn updating it each time another month, quarter, or year rolls by.

    My LikedIn profile is nuisance! It provides fodder for the vendors to contact me relentlessly about products and services I don’t want, don’t need, and don’t have the time to investigate. It is out of date and left that way by design.

    he individual you referenced may be a very dedicated, hard working, and busy person. It may be that self-promotion isn’t as important to him as making good on his current commitments.

    Now, to your point, ‘about’ isn’t definitive and it definitely allows room for uncertainty and ambiguity.

    In my world IT people use words like about to indicate ‘within a range’ without embroiling the conversation in too many specifics. Sometimes its helpful to know that there is some fuzzy edges to our observations.

    Thanks for helping all of us see where we can empower our speech and our lives through better word choices. I look forward to learning more of the power vocabulary.



  2. Skip Weisman, Workplace Communication Expert says:

    Sorry for the delayed reply. Thank you for investing the time in such a detailed comment here.
    I totally understand and appreciate your comments and clarification as to the usage of “about.”
    Everything is contextual and I never speak in absolutes. My entire business is making people more conscious of how they communicate and to make better language choices by understanding the consequences of some words they may not understand could have an unintended impact.

    Thanks, again, and please come back and continue to add value to the conversations here.

  3. Sandhya says:

    “Almost” is another nuisance word although I suspect I too use it. As I am writing this, I am thinking to myself I should be conscious the next time I use it.

    I am almost done – I so not like this sentence! This just doesn’t tell me how much more is left to be done!

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