For Entrepreneurs: Empty Words Destroy Credibility


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The reseach on the Unicist Ontology of Words showed how empty words drive pastime activities and how ambiguous words drive adaptive work in business. When a business uses mottos like “World leaders in their specialty” or “The power of our organization and the credibility of our people”, there are two possibilities:

  • They are ambiguous words to allow people to make their own interpretation
  • They are empty words because there is no content to sustain the motto

If they are ambiguous words, the motto can be proved and explained in few words using plain language.

On the other hand, if they are empty words, they pretend to drive the reader towards a fallacious conclusion. In plain language: empty words are lies.

The Unicist Ontology of Words’ Functionality (*)

Unicist Ontology of WordsInterpersonal written or spoken language requires the use of words which, according to their meaning, define the functionality of communication.

This description explains the functionality implicit in the use of words. The results of this research help individuals to diagnose reality based on the facts implicit in what is said.

Conceptually, based on their meaning, there are four different “types” of words:

  • Empty words: are those words that have no rational meaning in the context they are being used. They have multiple non structured meanings with no shareable purpose. Adjectives with no adverbial function are empty words.
  • Hollow words: are those words that are able to integrate in a unique sense the meanings given to them by emitters and receivers. In these words there is an implicit tacit purpose underlying.
  • Full words: are the words with a unique irrefutable meaning for those involved in a communication process. They are the solid container where hollow words fit in.
  • Ambiguous words: are the words having two different excluding meanings. One of the meanings is functional to the communication process and the other is dysfunctional.

(*) Excerpt from the book Unicist Standard Language by Peter Belohlavek.

The paradox is that non-institutionalized businesses need to build credibility based on their actions but instead tend to use empty words to position their activity. In plain language: bragging is part of their habits in marketing.

This destroys their internal and external credibility and drives them towards marginal markets that require a low cost – low value strategy. In these markets bragging is part of the rules of the game.

The use of empty words in marketing needs to be avoided. Empty words are necessary to develop the rituals to establish personal relationships and are part of the social small-talk. But their use when developing commercial messages destroys the credibility of the business. The first action to be done, when a new motto begins to be used, is to confirm and upgrade the content that sustains the motto. “Under-promise and over-deliver” is the core of credibility.

Diana Belohlavek

NOTE: The Unicist Research Institute has been the pioneer in using a logical approach to deal with complexity since 1976 and is nowadays the world leader in its segment. It has an academic arm and a business arm: https://www.unicist.net/marketing/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/turi-1.pdf

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