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Choose the right words. What can you share at work?

If you’re writing at work, you need to use clear language. Avoid weak or vague verbs that can have multiple meanings and may be ambiguous.  

To share is an example of a vague verb which has become popular with social media usage. We commonly share things online, meaning we post them publicly. However, communication is more varied in the workplace and the meaning of share can be unclear. With a document, agenda or file, people often mean emailed or sent.

If share relates to feelings or emotions, then the meaning is clearer.

Here are some examples from minutes of meetings. Which examples are clear and which are vague? Which match the dictionary definitions below? The answer key is at the end.

  1. GI shared with BF the file we prepared.
  2. The agenda has been shared.
  3. Please enter your planned leave in the shared calendar.
  4. We will then share with you some of the proactive activities undertaken by the Committee collectively.
  5. Moreover, we shared our concerns with management.
  6.  Details related to the procurement training to be held in March will be shared soon.

In the dictionary, to share can have multiple meanings, which often fail to match the ubiquitous use it is given in UN emails, minutes of meetings and texts:

 From the Oxford Learners’ Dictionary:

1             use at the same time

 to have, use or experience something at the same time as somebody else

  • There isn’t an empty table. Would you mind sharing?

2             divide between people

 to have part of something while another person or other people also have part

  •  share something All members of the band equally share the band’s profits.
  •  share something with somebody He shared the pie with her.

3             give some of yours

 to give some of what you have to somebody else; to let somebody use something that is yours

  •  share something The conference is a good place to share information and exchange ideas.
  •  share something with somebody This online resource will give farmers a new way to share knowledge with each other.

4             feelings/ideas/problems

 to have the same feelings, ideas, experiences, etc. as somebody else

  •  share something to share a concern/an opinion
  • view that is widely shared

Extra examples:

 to tell other people about your ideas, experiences, and feelings

  •  share something to share thoughts/ideas/feelings/memories
  • Please share this on Facebook and Twitter so we can get the word out.
  • I want to share the stories of several people I met.
  • Think of this as an opportunity to share your experiences.

Answer key

  1. GI gave BF the file we prepared. (Vague, as it’s still unclear if this is what actually happened.)
  2. The agenda has been shared. (If it was emailed, then it is clear.)
  3. Please enter your planned leave in the shared calendar. (This usage is clear.)
  4. We will then describe some of the proactive activities undertaken by the Committee collectively. (Somewhat vague.)
  5. Moreover, we shared our concerns with management. (This usage is clear, as it’s a common expression meaning “to tell someone”.)
  6.        Details related to the procurement training to be held in March will be published on our website soon. (This is vague. The author needs to be specific.)

Tip by:

Carol Waites (PhD)
Email: carolswritingtips@gmail.com

Presentation/editing by Christina O’Shaughnessy (editor)
https://worldwidewriting.org/

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