Monday, October 17, 2011

Things that move

One Favorite Thing:
How to Say It for Women: Communicating with Confidence and Power Using the Language of Success by Phyllis Mindell

I started reading this book last weekend and it has seriously changed the way I think about my vocabulary. Language is power and weak language can seriously impede our success. A 2009 study by David R. Hekman of the University of Washington found that white men continue to earn 25 percent more than equally-well performing women and minorities. Using powerful language can give us women a leg-up on workplace success.

Building upon the book & further research at Open Forum (, I discovered five weak words that, if eliminated from our vocabulary, will empower us to action:

  • But: replace with 'and'. Using 'but' in a sentence such as "I would like to run a marathon but I am not in shape"dismisses the effort and turns the 'but' into an excuse. If you replace it with an 'and', it provokes the question of how you can accomplish said task.
  • Want: replace with 'am'. Wanting isn't a call to action. Using 'am' puts you in the drivers seat, such as changing "I want to apply for that job" to "I am going to apply for that job".
  • Hope: replace with 'intend'. As the author of the article at Open Forum said, "Hope without action will leave you empty-handed." 
  • Should: replace with 'will'. Should is passive, 'will' gives you control of the outcome. Case in point: "I should work out more" vs. "I will work out more".
  • Try: replace with 'will'. Using 'will' instead of 'try' gives you no opt out. "I will replace my weak vocabulary with strong power words!"
Phyllis suggested using strong verbs instead of fluffy adjectives in our daily vocabulary. Here is a great website at Job Skills Information that has more power verbs than one could probably ever remember in a given day: Phyllis suggested posting a list of strong verbs near your desk so if you ever are at a loss for a word, you can pick from the power list! The more you use power verbs, the more ingrained in your vocabulary they will become.

Speaking well is a life skill. I highly recommend How to Say It for Women by Phyllis Mindell.

1 comment:

  1. This is fabulous, Breanna. Great post. It reminds me when I was your age and climbing through the business world maze!