We all know how pros and cons work. Pros are good, and cons are bad. We use them to refer to people, things, activities, and anything else that we can quantify. This article will explore some professional alternatives that you can use.
1. Strengths And Weaknesses
One of the best ways to use pros and cons (especially at work) is by using strengths and weaknesses. It applies mainly to people, as we can refer them to their character traits or the ways they carry themselves within the company.
You might find that you have good strengths that translate well to your job. For example, you could be excellent with your time management (meaning you’re never late). You could also have great leadership skills (maybe you’d make a good boss one day).
On the flip side, you might also have some glaring weaknesses. This isn’t always a bad thing. You’re only human, after all. It’s easy enough to have reasons why you’re not perfect, and it’s better that you know what your weaknesses are so that you can work on them.
Common weaknesses include being a know-it-all and feeling like you have to prove something to the people you work with. You might also find that some people get too invested in their work, making it hard for them to multitask if their manager gives them something else to work on.
There is a pitfall here, though. Some people joke about their weaknesses as being “too good at their job” or “too happy to please their boss.” These are not weaknesses.
If anything, the above phrases are simple ways to show potential employers that you do not know how to evaluate yourself. You can’t come up with good weaknesses, so you make up some strengths and use the word “too” to make them sound bad.
2. Assets And Liabilities
Another great professional way to write pros and cons is with assets (good) and liabilities (bad). Again, this refers mainly to people, and it’s a good way for us to show someone what we are made of.
You might find this works well in your CV. It’s not a common choice as many people just stick to strengths and weaknesses. However, it’s because it’s less common than it would make such a good choice.
Not many bosses will see “assets and liabilities” listed in a CV. They are probably far too used to strengths and weaknesses, so it would help if you could use it to standard yourself out above the rest of the people around.
Assets are always good to talk about, as it shows what would make you a good employee.
Liabilities tend to be things that make you not-so-suitable. Typically, we stick to weaknesses when we’re talking about things we know we can work on. “Liabilities” make it sound like you aren’t able to work on those weaknesses, so you should be careful using them.
3. Gains And Losses
We don’t always have to refer to people’s characteristics or traits. “Gains and losses” is a good way to list positives and negatives in other formal situations. Academic writing or business reports might utilize this one to show success and failure.
Naturally, “gains” are the positive ones. We use them to show how we might have created success in some way. For example, a company would talk about their gains as the profits they’ve made in the last financial year relative to the previous one.
On the flip side, losses are more clear. We use those to show where losses and failures might have taken place. This is something that often can’t be avoided, so it makes sense to disclose what your losses might be.
4. Positives And Negatives
This is a simple one. Many people use this formally and professionally, and it works really well. It doesn’t have the same idiomatic prowess as things like “pros and cons,” but we can still use it nonetheless.
The best part about using positives and negatives is that it makes sense without explanation. Everyone knows what to expect when they see these things written down.
They are also very general. Positives and negatives can apply to both people and things.
A positive for a person might be that they are able to work to deadlines. A positive for a company might be that they’ve hired more people than they thought they were going to.
A negative for a person might include that they don’t know how to turn someone down. A negative for a company might be that they are losing money at a steady rate and need to make changes.
5. Opportunities And Obstacles
Going back to business-based phrases, we can refer to opportunities to show where things might be gained. Obstacles are the opposite and refer to things that companies might have to overcome if they’re planning on making a big success of something.
We don’t typically use these two with people, as it doesn’t make sense. Opportunities and obstacles work best when we’re talking about objects or entities that don’t have physical characteristics or problems to talk about.
The interesting part is that obstacles can work for people, but opportunities don’t tend to work in the same way.
Someone might experience obstacles in life, which is anything that will make it much harder for them to live in the normal, expected way.
While opportunities can work for people, it is not something you typically use in formal writing.
For example, it makes sense to use this:
- My strength is that I’m talented in this field.
But we couldn’t opportunities in the same way:
- My opportunity is that I’m talented in this field.
For this reason, it’s best to keep both opportunities and obstacles for objects rather than people.
6. For And Against
We can use arguments for and against certain things in academic writing. It’s very common for people writing essays and evaluations to use these types of words.
Arguments “for” something mean that someone is supporting a situation. We use this to show that there is a positive side to things to talk about.
You might see it in the following ways:
- The arguments for the welfare of the people are compelling. We all want to feel better.
- There are many arguments for outsourcing, one of which is to save money in the long run.
- The arguments for this case are overwhelming. It makes sense to follow them.
Arguments “against” are the opposite of “for.” We use them to show how things might work against certain arguments that we’ve listed. It’s good to highlight these to show how the two sides line up.
It’s also great to include when you’re trying to make a compelling argument. Showing that you’re able to use “arguments against” and disprove them is a great argumentative tool that many people will rate you highly for.
Here’s how arguments “against” might look:
- There are a few arguments against my view, but I believe it would help to look into them so I can tell you why they’re wrong.
- The arguments against equal pay for all people are ridiculous and set us back almost a century.
- All of the arguments against my thoughts here are false. It’s not worth looking into them more than need be.
7. Advantages And Disadvantages
We can use advantages to show what we might be able to get out of something (positively). Disadvantages show the opposite. We use them to show how something might limit us in what we’re capable of doing.
Advantages and disadvantages can apply to people, but it’s not common for people to attribute them to themselves. Instead, you’re more likely to hear somebody else give advantages and disadvantages to you.
- The advantage of Dan is that he’s a quick worker. The disadvantage is that he’s always late.
Here, we can see someone is evaluating Dan with advantages and disadvantages. This makes sense because it helps them to understand him better. However, Dan would not use these words for himself.
It’s always better to use advantages and disadvantages for objects or companies. People might find it offensive if you use these words for them, so be very careful how you choose to write them.
8. Benefits And Drawbacks
Finally, we have benefits and drawbacks. These only ever apply to companies or inanimate objects. Benefits are things that we can find that are good about certain companies or objects. Drawbacks are things that we wish didn’t exist.
While benefits might allow us to take two positive steps forward, it’s always possible that drawbacks cause us to take three negative steps back. You have to weigh up these two things if you’re going to run a successful business, project, or task force.
That’s why it’s common for people to analyze and evaluate profits or projects before taking anything new on. These reports and evaluations will let you know whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks or not.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.