Like many of our readers and fans of the written word, I love the subtly of our language. I came across a great example of how a minor shift in words can make a significant difference in the message.
In a recent newspaper article a company that involved in an accident wherein a customer was seriously injured stated, “We have established a policy that we do not comment whenever we are under investigation or involved in litigation.”
Had this company worded this differently they could have delivered the message they probably intended. They might have stated it something like, “As we are currently involved in litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment.” Said this way, the message is, “We behave appropriately when we’re litigated” and “We’re involved in litigation at the moment.” (rather than often or continuously).
Of course, making sure the message being sent is the one the writer intended takes time and careful consideration of the words used and their order. That’s why an appropriate amount of time needs to be allowed for rewriting and editing content when developing a proposal. It’s also why proposals which are rushed out the door often unintentionally deliver the wrong message.