Do NOT Do This When Writing Letters, Emails, or any Writing

Avoid using the word “ensure” in any written form.

 

Why….???  Just don’t do it…

 

Well, why 小山?

Because ensure is to guarantee. Times when we can ensure a certain outcome are very rare, and never really exist unless we have total control over the situation. For example, “The CEO ensured us that the weather would be nice next weekend and we would have the company picnic.” The CEO may have looked at a weather report and concluded that based on the 50% chance of rain next weekend, that the weather would be accommodating. But he cant actually ensure – the weather is too large, complex, and unpredictable.

Its really best to avoid the word altogether. If you must use it, try to qualify it (e.g., “help ensure”, or, “work to ensure“).

 

2 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Camille
    Camille 2 months ago

    Hi XiaoShan,

    Thanks for sharing! And I am glad to see your name in Chinese characters printed in your article. It is a good lesson for me, sometimes I was trying to use not too strong word and be more smooth when writing to professor or teammates. I found it is not easy to ask questions or to confirm some details properly and fully if I don’t have enough words to use. And writing email and a professional document is really important.

    • Profile photo of XiaoShan Author
      XiaoShan 2 months ago

      Thanks! When you write an email to a professor, manager, client, or colleague, you want to avoid (like you said) strong words that make a definite promise and give your writing less credibility. Instead of using ensure, you can always qualify a statement using other words. For example, if your boss asks you to ensure you will deliver a project on time, you could state: “I understand the importance of the delivering the project on schedule. I am working diligently on delivering the project according to schedule.” That way, you don’t make any definite promises – something could happen and the project could be delivered later than planned. It may mitigate your boss’ emotional response to the project being late, and displace blame on what occurred, rather than yourself. That’s part of managing your manager!

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