Passing Along Your Wisdom? Remember The KISS Principle

Written by William Pauwels on April 11, 2018

Successful writing depends on one’s objectives and one’s audience.

If you’re writing for academic elitists then highfalutin words, sentences, and paragraphs are perhaps in order. If you want to influence them and be accepted by them, then you perhaps must talk their language.

On the other hand, if your audience is the “average-joe”, then you should use his language, words, simple sentences and paragraphs.

Personally, most of my writing is aimed at this latter group – my peers. So I try to apply the KISS Principle, i.e., Keep It Short and Simple. I try not to use a complex word when a simple word will get the idea across.

During my first year at Dow Corning, I was required to take a course in business writing. We were given a situation and required to write a business letter to communicate it. Frankly, my draft was annihilated by the teacher. My pretentious college vocabulary was replaced with simple words. Compound sentences were severed, shortened and/or eliminated. Frankly, it was a humiliating experience.

I still think our teacher overdid the Kiss Principle. But I did get the point – Keep It Short and Simple. Try to express rather than impress.

Of course business writing is highly specialized and not intended for entertainment like a novel or magazine article or political statement.

One of the major offenders of the KISS Principle are Christian magazines and books. The new “United States Catholic Catechism for Adults” – apparently written for the common man – is a gross failure in the art of appropriate communication. Catholic magazines like America and Notre Dame are examples of elitist rhetoric. I suspect they are aimed at highly educated clergy, theologians, and quasi-intellectuals – of which I ain’t one!

In God we must trust . . . but we must always do our part – to secure and promote the truth and a better way – to protect our freedom and interests – and to defend the Judeo-Christian American-Way.

Image: Excerpted from: photo credit: mripp Kiss me Baby via photopin (license)

William Pauwels
William A. Pauwels, Sr. was born in Jackson Michigan to a Belgian, immigrant, entrepreneurial family. Bill is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and served in executive and/or leadership positions at Thomson Industries, Inc., Dow Corning, Loctite and Sherwin-Williams. He is currently CIO of Pauwels Private Investment Practice. He's been commenting on matters political/economic/philosophical since 1980.