Be careful with declarative statements

Boldly saying you’ll achieve something difficult or that your brand is beyond reproach is an invitation to be proven wrong. Make sure you don’t oversell.

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It didn’t take long before his instant stardom went to his head: “My album is better than [The Beatles’] ‘Sgt. Pepper’s,'” he declared. The public disagreed; those were the only top 10 hits D’Arby ever had.

When Jay Leno took over “The Tonight Show” in 1992, competitor Arsenio Hall didn’t mince words: “I’m going to…kick Leno’s ass.” He didn’t. Leno soon became the king of late night, and Hall was off the air within two years. (He returned to late night this fall after a 19-year hiatus.)

In late 2011, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told ABC’s Jake Tapper, “I’m going to be the nominee.” He wasn’t; he won only two state primaries. (His bombastic personality did help him land a co-hosting seat on CNN’s resurrected “Crossfire,” however.)

As these three examples illustrate, making bold proclamations can backfire, sometimes badly.

“But wait…didn’t you previously advise us to use declarative language?”

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