Weasels, as an animal, are surprisingly cute. As filler words for your pitches (or your resume), however, weasel words can undermine you more than help you.
Photo by Jessi Swick.
As productivity author Seth Godin points out, “weasel words” are words that artificially inflate your claims without really saying anything. It’s the writing equivalent of cropping a photo to avoid the pile of garbage just outside the frame. Godin gives a few examples:
Promotional weasel words. Every experienced marketing copywriter knows how to use them. “As much as half off,” means, “There is at least one item on sale for half of some price of dubious origin. Everything else is any price we want it to be.”
When you say, “nearly 500,” it’s a totally different message than, “500.” Words like, “renowned,” “fabled,” and “deluxe” are weasely. They let you wriggle out of your promise.
When you’re trying to beef up your resume or make your pitch sound more catchy, focus on the claims you can actually substantiate, rather than dressing up an average claim in buzzwords. Not only will the person listening probably see through your tricks, but rephrasing your claims to sound cool is a trick anyone can do. It doesn’t help you stand out nearly as much as you think it does.
Unweasonable [Seth Godin]