That’s the word for the fillers and qualifiers we inject into our speech and writing.
Don’t get me wrong: hedges can be useful - for clarity, for avoiding arrogance or softening a harsh message. But too often they add no value or undermine our message and our authority.
See what you think of my selection.
'At this stage...' (Suggesting that things may change)
'I'm sorry to say that ..' and 'Unfortunately...' (Expressing empathy)
'Approximately' and 'about' (May be necessary for clarity)
Hedges to avoid
'I think...' (Just say it.)
'You know what I mean?' (Yes,of course we do!')
'If that makes sense...' (Of course it does and until now we wouldn't have thought that you would say things that didn't make sense.)
'I would like to apologise for...' (Okay in speech, but in writing, just apologise.)
'Pretty' as in pretty dangerous, pretty expensive
'Rather' as in rather unique, rather quick
'Well, that's my opinion anyway.' (It's like saying, 'other people are bound to disagree, so don't take me too seriously'.)
Okay - if we use them appropriately
Keep asking yourself, 'Do I really need this qualifier, or is it just undermining my message?'.
To some extent