That sentence sounds innocuous enough, doesn’t it?
At risk of turning into the hypersensitive language police, we have to offer a caution on it.
Words like “exploit” or “dominate” or another word like “ammunition” are commonly used in the business world.
“We’re going to exploit this market opportunity to dominate the competition.”
Or: “We’ve got enough ammunition with this marketing campaign to make a killing with our new launch.”
However, in everyday speech, “exploit” and “dominate” and “kill” are not positive words.
You would never say “I will exploit my friend this weekend.”
Yet for some reason, we’re accustomed to using such aggressive and even violent language in business.
In 2020, we would suggest that such terminology probably does not add value in an MBA essay.
Even though you may have an idea for a business that can “exploit” an inefficiency in a market, try to come up with a different way to phrase it when you’re writing about your career goals.
Same thing when you’re describing a success you achieved on a project.
Be sensitive to the connotations of the words that you use.
These are factors that contribute to the “voice” of an essay (shameless plug: it’s often only an outsider reviewer, like a qualified admissions consultant – hint hint – who can spot such issues! it can be difficult for the writer of such sentences to self-detect language that can be problematic).
When you’re in first-draft-mode, don’t worry about exact word choice or being precise with your meanings.
But when you get into second and third and maybe-final-candidate draft mode, then yeah, you need to be on the lookout for such things.
Want more insight on language? Check out what these Stanford professors say:
What ways can the language we use reinforce existing stereotypes and biases?
On this episode, Sarah Soule, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Matt Abrahams discuss how the details of our word choice can shape culture, for better or worse. https://t.co/h4P4EKPSVN
— Stanford Graduate School of Business (@StanfordGSB) December 20, 2020
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