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When correct wording is important for political and business leaders

Does it annoy you when you hear political and business leaders use the wrong words when they speak? Do you ‘think less of them’ when you hear them make mistakes?

Some mistakes are worse and more embarrassing than others – like Tony Abbott’s word confusion –  using ‘suppository’ instead of ‘repository’.




Recently, I keep hearing several politicians talk about ‘iNteration’ rather than the correct ‘iteration’.


Even Malcolm Turnbull gets his words wrong – but his mistakes are minor and due to a common problem – old-school hypercorrection*. (example at the end of this post, if you are interested)

I understand that political and business leaders are busy. From my experience helping them, effective political and business leaders do the following to try to reduce potentially embarrassing mistakes.


  1. they make time  to practise an important message out loud and
  2. they practise in front of people and encourage these people to let them know if they (the leaders) get a word or a name wrong. Many ‘support staff’ are too afraid to correct leaders unless the leaders encourage support staff to speak up and help them catch any errors.


The positive side of being a word nerd

Another thing to be aware of is words that mean different things to different audiences in different parts of the world – slang and idiomatic expressions.


As I mentioned, some mistakes are minor – but other mistakes in using the wrong words can make political and business leaders look foolish…and certainly not a  ‘suppository of wisdom”.

*hypercorrection is when speakers try so hard to be correct and proper – they are actually wrong. An example, is the use of I instead of ME.


turnbull 3FF54C1A00000578-4475494-image-a-8_1493947316530

Malcolm Turnbull in talking about his meeting with Donald Trump, recently referred to ‘…for Lucy and I’ when it should have been “for Lucy and me’.

At school, many old-school politicians were taught to NOT use ME – however sometimes ME is correct. I helped a Brisbane speaker know when ME is correct so he could be correct is all his future speeches.

An easy way to know when WE is correct is: you ‘break up’ the words and say them separately – for Lucy (correct)…for I (incorrect)…for ME (correct).

Another easy way is to substitute WE for X and I and US for X and Me.

You wouldn’t say ‘for WE’ – but you would say ‘for US’. I hope that helps.






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This entry was posted on May 17, 2017 by in Uncategorized.
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