Brevity is the new Black

You are only as good as the quality of information you receive. If your team, clients and colleagues are using language that is ambiguous your decisions will be less than good. Humans communicate using words and sentences that influence internal maps. Your internal map is another word for your unconscious mind. The unconscious is the driver to your thinking, state and memory. Good leaders demand quality information from others to reduce ambiguity. There are some common patterns of words which can be challenged giving more specific data. Recently I have delivered trainings in Romania, Spain and the UK to professionals who want to learn and understand these patterns. The intention for these individuals ranged from wanting to understand others, become clear in their communication, save time, negotiate elegantly, sell, and enhance their personal and professional lives.

The language we use has a form and structure. Language is both complicated and simple. The following information is a brief reminder of the patterns to those who attended trainings in Bucharest, Marbella, London  and Leeds.

We naturally deleted, distort and generalise in our conversations. It is impossible to mention every bit of information in a conversation so we select unconsciously what we want to get across. This sometimes can mean the words we use do not specifically mean what is true. Lets introduce some patterns that are common in day to day conversations.


Simple Deletions : A simple deletion is where something that could be relevant is left out of the sentence / phrase. Challenging these will retrieve information that will enhance the understanding of the listener/s.

Example :  “I’m confused” 

Question/s to retrieve deleted information : “confused about what specifically?”    “how specifically are you confused?”

Other examples of simple deletions in business contexts … “we can do it” “it will be okay” “hows things?” “all good” 

It is not important to challenge every simple deletion however it can be useful to identify individuals who tend to delete important elements through there limited communication.

Deleted Reference : A sentence where the person(s) or thing is not stated.

Examples : “They are all up for it” “it will be easy” 

Question/s to retrieve information : “who are they?” “up for what specifically??” “what will be easy?

 Comparing Deletion : This style of pattern is popular in many meetings. This is better than that conversations.

Example : “New York is better than Miami”    “June is better than July” “Mercedes are better than BMW’s” 

This pattern identifies a comparison has been made but it is unclear without challenge what the speaker is referring to.

Question to challenge : “in what way is Miami better than New York” “better according to who?” 

In some meetings when a decision has to be made it is important to be clear and specific when promoting your idea by giving clear reasons why one thing is better than another.

Process Deletion : This style of deletion is not clear as to how something is or has been done.

Example : “he bullied me” “They surprised us” 

This pattern focuses on the process in a communication that has been deleted.

Question : “he bullied you how?” “how did they surprise you and about what?” 

Nominalisation / Abstract Noun’s) : These are words which are spoken as though they are nouns ( things ) but cant be seen and only exist contextually. Many personal and corporate value words are nominalisation’s. They are also described as frozen verbs ( processes ). The common test for a nominalisation is …  if the noun can not be put in a wheelbarrow it is a nominalisation. There is much information deleted when a nominalisation is used in a sentence.

Examples of common nominalisation’s : Leadership ( from the process leading )   Communication ( from the process communicating )  Respect ( from the process respecting )   Love ( from the process of loving ) 

Example : “we need more leadership” 

Question/s : “when you say leadership what do you mean?”

Nominalisations are words that change meaning from person to person and can take on different meanings at several stages of life. Trust is understood differently by you as a small child, teenager and adult.



Universal Pattern : Whatever you say internally or externally your unconscious is listening and making up things based on your words. This is true of others also as they listen to your words. Words build and support belief systems. Sometimes challenging words that are simply not true can be useful to get a more accurate take on things. Universal’s are words that include the whole set of things in a category … words like “everything” “everyone” “all” “no one” “never” “always”.

Example : “nobody will like this”   “this will never work” 

These statements many times are untrue and a figure of speech but in other contexts it can be useful to de-globalise the phrase/ word. This small challenge changes the unconscious format. Individuals who continually use these universal words are limiting their maps. It is always useful to be aware of these words.

Cant do and Can do cultures/ people : You will recognise that in your life there will be that person who repeatedly finds a way that something wont work. They will use phrases like  “we cant do that” “thats not possible” “that wont work”


These are words giving clues as to how individuals personal maps are currently created. These words let you know the limits of their internal world. Obama in 2008 had a rally cry for his campaign “YES WE CAN” … the presuppositions in these few words were like no other slogan used in a presidential campaign.

Be aware of words that suggest something is either possible or impossible.

Words like … Can / Cant    Will / Wont     May / May not     Possible / Impossible

Awareness of these words in a culture and context allows you to understand where people are at with their beliefs on a subject. After the financial crash in 2009 many board rooms were plagued with the words “cant” referring to the limits put on organisations due to the situation. Whenever something happens that could be seen as a set back some people sway first to what they cant do rather than what they can do. In recent events ( 2017) in the Caribbean when hurricane Irma hit  land with a Cat 5 causing $64.76 Billion damage many focussed on what was not possible. One cruise company days after took the initiative asking “what can we do?”. Royal Caribbean Cruise deployed 3400 employees and two cruise ships straight to the affected areas and worked specifically on what could be done. This was then reflected by others who then gave assistance understanding and adopting what can be done. Out of the three major cruise lines ( Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean) who all played a significant and good part after the storm Royal Caribbean was the only line to be registered by the Miami Herald as : Relief Response = Excellent.



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