Booklet Tips – Absolutely Not

Using absolutes in your tips booklet can sometimes put a truly impossible burden on your reader. Think about the absolutes you might be inclined to use – words like always, all, forever, never – and consider how realistic it is to suggest such things, much less even possible to accomplish in certain circumstances.

Recommending to your reader to always do something a certain way leaves no room for error, creativity, exploration, or uniqueness. You may be using those words more for emphasis than meaning it literally. Your reader might not know that or be able to make that distinction. Your audience may be new to your area of expertise and not be equipped to determine nuances or any distinctions yet. And, after all, you are seen as an expert, and because of that, the assumption is you know what you’re talking about and the reader may believe that what you’re saying needs to be followed as thoroughly and accurately as possible.

Speaking of possible, telling the reader to look at all the possibilities for solving something is actually impossible. How does anyone know what all the possibilities are, much less if they have identified them? Yes, that is definitely different than referring to all the people in a well-defined group.

Advising the reader to always do something is another potentially impossible piece of advice, if not a great burden. Imagine how they may feel if they miss a beat and don’t do something consistently every single time they do it.

“Should” is one of those personal pet peeves, especially when expressed as “you should.” It begs the question of “how do you know what I should do?” and can be seen as authoritarian in the extreme, in some situations.

This conversation in this article is more than a matter of semantics. Even if your reader is not conscious of the distinctions noted here when they are reading your tips booklet or particularly sensitive to the concept of absolutes, there is an underlying tone that moves you from being helpful and supportive to something else. That something is less desirable and probably the opposite of what you have in mind in sharing your knowledge and expertise.

ACTION – Review your tips booklet manuscript and everything else you are writing to see if you have included any words that are absolutes – any of those words like always, all, forever, never, or even most. You need to know the entire amount to know if it’s accurate to reference most. While you’re at it, take a moment to consider how you feel when you encounter an absolute coming at you. It may bother you or not. It could be something that was under the surface that is now easily identified because of what you discovered here. Providing well-guided possibilities is a great gift you have in your power to give. Putting limitations on it is a gift that is less than a full measure. You’ll see that the idea of “give them everything you’ve got” is missing from the suggestion. After all, do you or anyone else know how much you really do have to give? Absolutely not.

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