Choose your words carefully!

Language is great, it allows us to communicate, share ideas, opinions, teach and get taught. Like clothes, I feel that languange, or better: the words you choose, make the man.

I like the fact that words, like etiquette, allow us to operate on a higher level, because you don’t have to tell everything. Just as one movement, like showing Asian people the soles of your foot or receiving something with the left hand instead of the right, which both are signs of disrepect, can tell the ones around you a lot, one word can say it all.

Emphasizing your own virtues

With things like displaying skill or enjoyment, most of the times it is better to not speak about that, skill and enjoyment will show by itself. Just by saying it, directly it devaluates your total act. It is simply not done to emphasize your own virtues. You can display them, but you shouldn’t talk about them (too much). Skill is something extraordinary, because when you talk about your own skill it comes across as cocky, arrogant. But wait until others talk about your skill, all of a sudden it adds so much to you as a person!

Less is more

Business jargon is the greatest. What might be extremely funny fur the incrowd, in general seems to be boring and annoying for the ones without the inside information. Have you ever considered how much you could say about your business by using abbreviations only? There is an abbreviation for almost everything, things don’t seem to exist if there’s not a cool abbreviation for it. LOL.

In your line of business, lots of things probably are defined. So if you would know what e.g. “recession” or “going public” mean in business, you understand that there’s quite an explanation behind it, but you don’t need that explanation in order to understand the position one’s in or the situation.

Explain your business

Another fun practice is to think about what you do, or what your business is about, and then try to explain it to somebody who has nothing to do with your business. How do you do it? You probably tell a story, using a metaphore, wouldn’t you?

Business procedures

The same goes for business procedures, they were thought of as best practices, the most efficient or effective way to get this task done. Not everybody likes procedures, because they feel that they can’t add their own characters in the job enough. You could also think that with this procedures, you cán add character, by further improving the way this job is done.

Don’t speak

Even by not mention something, you can say a lot. Just like with kids, if you would mention that they can’t do a specific thing, like watching TV, that’s the thing they will hear. By mentioning it, it suddenly became real. In business, it is the same. Sometimes it is difficult to be very thoughtful about the words you choose, especially when the going seems to be getting though.Using arguments to emphasize your own strenghts tend to be more powerful than downplaying others.

At one occassion someon explained to me what Hans van Breukelen, a famous 80’s keeper in the Dutch soccer team, did when asked the question why he, at age 36, was still the keeper of choice for the team. Was the younger generation lacking in talent? ‘No’, he said, upgrading everybody involved, ‘the Dutch keepers are world class, so I consider it a big honour that I am still able to defend the goal for the team.’

Use the right word

Finally, I’d like to share some thoughts about the meaning of a word when only small changes occur. Now, I am happy I am not writing in Chinese, because then even the slightest wobble of the tongue could mean that one would be calling you bad names, instead of, I don’t know, ordering a pizza or something..

But even in English there is words that mean something totally different with a slight change. Words like complimentary (for free) and complementary (additional). You can go really wrong with that one. Or likeable (nice) or liable (a risk). There’s probably dozens of more examples. Which ones can you come up with?

And as a final take-away, a famous sketch from Fawlty Towers where not mentioning a specific word seems to be impossible to do:

Fawlty Towers – Don’t mention the war
About the author

About the author

Over the past few years Walter van der Scheer has been evangelizing marketing automation to advertising agencies, e-commerce companies and co-workers alike and has been building a team of determined sales professionals. He has made progress, but the road ahead is still very long. Walter shares his personal experiences and challenges along the road of changing the way that marketing is done, while trying to stick to the strategically chosen path. +

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