Don’t lose* clients with loose** language

CHRISTMAS MEANS different things to different people. However, most people will be looking forward to spending time with their families, exchanging presents and enjoying a little glass of whatever they fancy.

But we don’t want to start relaxing too much before we actually reach the start of our well-earned Christmas break. Especially when it comes to communicating with our invaluable clients.

So, here are a few festive reminders of commonly confused words and phrases to keep us communicating like the clear-headed professionals we are!

1. Accept and except. Be nice: accept your colleagues’ gifts with good grace; except (not including) if you get a gold ring from the creep down the corridor!
2. Allude and elude. At this time of year you might allude to (refer to) a fat jolly man, dressed in red, getting stuck down the chimney. But isn’t it odd how such a conspicuous character manages to elude (avoid or escape) us?
3. Bare and bear. Teddy bears are always a popular feature on Christmas wish-lists. Take away the bear’s duffle coat and hat and you could now accurately describe your teddy as bare (naked).
4. Complement and compliment. You compliment someone on their Christmas jumper. Their faux reindeer antlers are what complements (completes or makes perfect) their outfit.
5. Climactic and climatic. The exciting build-up to Christmas is climactic. Chatting about the lack of snow is a climatic conversation.
6. Great presents; great presence. The former refers to the lovely gifts you receive at this time of year; presence, meanwhile, refers to the charisma or aura of the colleague you’ve been admiring all year!
7. Defuse and diffuse. The first prevents a bomb from exploding; though it’s commonly used to describe removing the intensity from arguments. The second is about spreading something in many directions. So, you could say drp comms campaigns diffuse clients’ messages.
8. Discreet and discrete. The first one means careful or tactful. So, you might be discreet about buying your partner’s Christmas present. The second one means apart or detached from others. Which is exactly where you might find yourself if you completely forget to buy your partner a Christmas present!
9. Fazed and phased. These two are often mixed up. Fazed means to cause to be disturbed or disconcerted. The amount of work you have to finish before the Christmas break may faze you. Phased (as a verb) is the way something happens in stages. So: ‘He took a phased approach to all his work, to avoid getting fazed in the run up to Christmas.’
10. Stationary and stationery. Stationery (pens and paper, etc) is the cupboard full of stuff you can’t wait to leave behind during the Christmas break. Stationary refers to your total lack of movement after eating too much turkey.

And a Christmas bonus, especially for those who send speedy text messages:

Your and you’re. The lovely Christmas jumper is from your granny. You’re (you are) going to smile at her sweetly, and be happy to wear it for the rest of the holidays!

Happy Christmas!

What about you? What words or phrases regularly leave you confounded?

* Lose. To misplace something.
** Loose. Not firmly held. Baggy (clothes, etc). Not tightly controlled, or not being exact; informality (loose tongue, loose language, etc).

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