In our documentation, especially with items that go to the courts, using the “right” word or description can make it easier for the reader to understand or visualize what we are describing. Using the “right” word, can prevent a lot of misunderstandings from the beginning, eliminating headaches for the Court Clerk or whoever else has to review the documentation, and for us, on the other end when we have to explain what we were writing about.
For example, if you were to read the word “collection” in regards to personal property in a client’s home, what image comes to mind? An amazing toy collection of Star Wars memorabilia? A cabinet full of Depression glass? Or maybe an interior weapons-safe with antique guns?
However, what if the “collection,” was actually a large quantity of old, used Tupperware, with missing lids? Or a “collection” of empty cardboard boxes the client was hoarding? Maybe these would be better described as an “accumulation.”
It can also get difficult when we’re trying to describe working on a multi-phase project. We have to consider words that make it clear to the reader that it’s a start-and-stop kind of a thing, and why. Words like initial, on-going, partial, or first are often helpful for these types of situations.
Similarly, when having to make/take multiple calls about a subject, it might be helpful to use words like endeavor, pursuit, request, or strive.
There are also words we try to stay away from, like never, always, all, must, has none, completely, final, total, or forever, because in the world of human care, these types of words are often inaccurate. Alternatives for such words include mostly, often, may not, regularly, not likely, some, historically, almost, as of yet, common, might, or may.
For example, when I read the words, “the ward has no family,” I always wonder why this person isn’t famous for being an alien invader, since they have no family and somehow materialized out of thin air. This is a nearly impossible statement to be made. Their majority of family might be deceased, but they came from someone to begin with.
When you’re doing court billing or other types of documentation, what do you do? Are there words you routinely use, or words that you avoid? Leave me a comment and let me know how you prefer to word your descriptions.