Word Bans

October 12, 2009 § 14 Comments

There are words I would like to ban, not necessarily for their being negative, but more because they are not positive. Words and phrases like may, hope to, will try, could, and so on. Most often, these phrases could be replaced with WILL.

While we do fall short in our expectations from time to time, I think a mindset develops around the not-so-positive phrases I alluded to. But in the words of Yoda of Star Wars fame: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

We should train ourselves to talk and think in terms of “I will” versus “I will try” or “I hope to” … more positive things may happen.

I have found that often what follows after the hope to, may, will try, etc. is a coulda, shoulda, woulda.

Oh yes, I know some people feel the word hope is important because they say it is all some people have. There are people who have led challenging lives. There are others who have overcome incredible odds. I want people to realize there can be more than hope.

Another phrase to eliminate is  … I think. Either you know or you don’t know.

Wendy is right about the different interpretation of words. I think people sometimes just don’t realize the meaning of what they are saying. How many times have we been in a restaurant and the server has asked us, “Is everything okay?” In some diners, I have been tempted to respond, “shouldn’t it be?”

I know I can be anal, but okay to me is mediocre, nothing to write home about. When I have received exceptional service, I have even tried to do my part to train the server by responding, “Everything is much better than okay. It’s great, especially the service.”

Of course, the server should be rephrasing the question away from putting a standard on dining experience in the first place by getting the patron to describe their own feeling about the visit to the restaurant. Something like, “How is your meal?” Or “Have you enjoyed your visit to our restaurant?”

To me, okay is just … okay.


What’s in a word?

October 5, 2009 § 1 Comment

When everything I tweet about is interesting, eventually I need a new word for interesting, because the meaning I once held with the word ‘interesting’ has been diminished and diluted by my own abuse of it.

What’s in a word?

So often companies and individuals alike have a list of the words we use and the words we don’t use.  Over time these lists have developed as we have tied certain meanings to each of the words and attempted to create our own identities and brands.  Using ‘proud’ vs. ‘pleased’.  Eliminating negative words, ‘I don’t want any debt’ vs. ‘I will be abundant’.

Words are what help us to frame our world, our perceptions and our existence.  Words can have a variety of different meanings for the person using them depending on what our past experience has been.  ‘Dog’ can instill fear in someone who was bitten as a child, or joy in someone who grew up with a family pet.  ‘Party’ can mean a great time to some, but petrify those who don’t like crowds.

Catch phrases can often become tiresome to the user and listener alike.  For example, I find so many things ‘interesting’ on the web.  But because I use it so often as a quick description of what I just read, the meaning I once held with the word ‘interesting’ has been diminished and diluted by my own abuse of it.

There are also plenty of words that I have chosen to banish from my vocabulary because of the connotations I associate with them: don’t, need, should, have to.  To me these are negative words, and they attract negative elements.  Don’t think about an apple.  Don’t focus on the negative.  Focus on the positive.  Which sentence actually entices you to think positively?

My day to day is continually bombarded with a variety of statements, but as I begin to question my own outlook and use of vocabulary, I begin to question the use of words by others and the motivations behind it.  Whenever someone says to me ‘You should be doing this’ or ‘You need to try this’, those to me are trigger words to stop and ask ‘why?’  Is their suggestion something that will actually help me?  Or do they have something to gain from my actions?  And if they do, is it a win/win scenario?  Or focused solely around their own wants?

Words are funny things.  Their use and their interpretations, whether consciously or unconsciously, influence so much of our day to day.  What words would you consider ‘trigger’ words?  What words have you eliminated from your vocabulary?  And vice versa, are there any words you attempt to use more often?

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