Watch out for “everyone” or “no one”

Years ago I was in a meeting when this one person broke into the conversation and declared “Don’t say everyone or no one. It doesn’t mean anything.” It’s obviously a great point — one that’s easy to forget.

We all do this. We try to justify our position by saying “No one knows…” or “Everyone knows…” or some derivative thereof. When you throw around these extremes you weaken your point. There is no such thing as everyone or no one. Don’t justify your position by putting an unjustifiable abstraction at the core.

Even “Most people” is a bad one. “Many people” isn’t as bad, but it’s still loaded. I find myself saying it all the time. “Some people” is better. A clear “these people” is best.

So when you’re making a point or taking a position, watch out everyone or no one — they aren’t really there.