We walk our dog Izzy each afternoon down near the beach not far from our house. We greet other dog walkers almost every day, but most of the time, we keep Izzy from bounding up to the other dog because you just don’t know how dogs will react to one another when they first meet.

One night, a woman with a rambunctious terrier crossed our path, and her dog began straining on the leash and snarling at a perplexed Izzy.  “Leave it!” I commanded Izzy, and as usual, he fell back in stride next to me.

Meanwhile, the woman with the terrier set about giving her dog a good talking to, reminding him to mind his manners and telling him that he knew better than to behave like that. The lecture made no appreciable difference in her dog’s behavior, and so we crossed the street as quickly as we could with Izzy glancing back over his shoulder.

Reminding your dog — already worked up by the approach of a stranger — that you have certain expectations of him and that you expect better from him is unlikely going to work because dogs are not big on abstractions of any kind. So keep your training commands simple and stick to the script.

My takeaway? The more complicated the subject, the simpler your language needs to be.

If you have a sales presentation about a new piece of software that will enable your client to improve customer service and increase sales, use clear, simple language to describe it. Avoid business jargon, which muddies more than clarifies and may lead your client to think you don’t really understand what you’re selling.

Simple is good. Complex language?

Just leave it.

— BOB UNGER

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Bob Unger  508-542-1252
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Barbara LeBlanc  603-486-8760
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