​I Don’t Want to Be "Pretty Good"

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​A few months back, I heard someone say they hated the phrase "pretty good." I know I use this expression quite often, so he had my attention.

He further explained that using the "pretty" qualifier dilutes anything you are trying to say. If you say I am "pretty good" at something, what does that really mean? In his opinion, he is either good at it or not. When you use the little word "pretty," he assumes he is not good at it.

After I let that settle, I couldn't agree with him more. The use of "pretty" gives us wiggle room in case something goes bad, and it doesn't allow us to provide a strong opinion about anything.

When asked how I am doing or how my weekend was, I commonly respond with "pretty good." The scary part is I can remember actually using this phrase during conversations in audits saying the control environment is "pretty good."

You might ask yourself, what is so bad with the phrase "pretty good," but as I have learned when using the phrase:

1) It's not accurate. When asked how I'm doing, and I respond with "pretty good," I know it is a lie. I have been blessed beyond anything I deserve or could have imagined. If I say I am just doing "pretty good," it implies I'm not grateful for that, and I expect better.

2) It doesn't add value. When discussing items with management, they want to know if something works or it doesn't. They don't want a half-sincere analysis, so using "pretty good" to describe the control environment doesn't help them. 

3) It's meaningless. I expect and demand excellence. With that frame of mind, "pretty good" doesn't have a place.

I want to commit to stop using "pretty good." I know it will be tough because the phrase seems to come out of my mouth sometimes without me even knowing it.

What are your thoughts? Are there phrases you want to commit to stop using?


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