- Eliminate unnecessary word in emails: I use "I think"/"I believe"/"I suspect"/"One way to look at this" a lot. Its not because I'm waffling on arguments I'm making. Its because partially I always need to be open to the opposing point of view and partially its because how I've been socially conditioned. But I'm using those words less lately in professional emails; sometimes explicitly going back and deleting them.
- Similarly in speech: I try more often that I used to eliminate modifiers, which segues nicely into...
- Don't always try to be complete: Often when I make arguments, I just naturally caveat, e.g. "of course this doesn't work if...", "while the other side will..." - too much debating in school I guess.
I do it mainly because that's just the way I normally think, but also to show I've thought things through completely and understand nuances. However, I increasingly find it only ends up diluting the argument you're trying to make. Unless you're talking to people that think the same way (not most people), you end up making your own job harder. It doesn't mean you don't think about the other side of things - just that you don't need to say everything you're thinking about.
My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.
She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.
No one did.
The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.
Still nobody moved.
My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn…