Your vocabulary is a source of your credibility. Are you using these words?
27,500. That’s how many words Americans have in their vocabulary. On average, we speak 140-165 words per minute in a conversation. Of course, we know those people who speak more than that (Mom), but that is the average rate.
But what if the words you were speaking were not representing you the way you hoped? Here’s what happened:
I had a situation where another business owner wasn’t so nice in an email. That email had some other people copied in it, one of which was my client. I am heavily involved in networking and my client happened to be the president of the group, hence the cc.
Before I wrote this business owner back, I asked my parent’s advice. I tend to ask other’s advice a lot because I’m someone who wants to make sure I’m not overreacting or looking at something in the wrong viewpoint. Here’s what they said:
“I wouldn’t word it just that way because those are slang words or words that a younger generation uses.” Interesting. I had never thought about it that way.
Based on this event, I starting thinking: of the 27,500 words we all use, were there any others that dated me or made me sound less credible? The unfortunate answer, yes. I came up with the following list of words that you can eliminate to turn your vocabulary around and make you more credible in any situation.
When I first read about this word from an article on Time.com I wasn’t sure why ‘actually’ was such a big deal. However, when I researched it more and found another article from TheWire.com, the author phrased it like this, “Actually is a word worse than literally because it is a secret criticism, an indirect jab, a correction with a barb. It is the “talk to the hand” of the adverb community. And even when it’s being used nicely, it’s unnecessary, a waste of space.” If you can help it, take it from your vocabulary and especially when you’re speaking to clients or those you’re trying to gain business from.
Like, this article is awesome, right!? Yes, but no. Saying “like” too many times is an immediate way for people to decrease their trust in you. Inc.com covers this situation perfectly by telling you HOW to take this out of your vocabulary. They lay out steps and even show you how silly you sound when you’re speaking like this. But, how do you know if you’re saying it? Have you ever heard of Toastmasters? For me, it was this really nerve-wracking organization that was mentioned in college. I knew you had to stand up and speak, however, I didn’t know that they have a buzzer whenever you say one of these filler words such as like, um, uh, and so, etc. Yes, they have a buzzer. Another thing to do is to listen to yourself when you speak. Once you notice that you say it, you’ll begin to see everyone else saying it too.
“Uh, no, I don’t have that done.” Another credibility-killing word. The worst part is once you realize how often you use “uh,” you will notice it when other people say it as well. Every. Single. Time. Uh is a filler word, like ‘like’ that is used when you need more time to think about things. Have you ever noticed that people who speak pause every once in a while to gather their thoughts, this is to avoid saying filler words, among other things.
This is one I’m personally working on. I have made myself aware of the fact (also after the Toastmasters meeting) that it’s a slang word and it makes you sound younger. Being a business owner at 25, people already looked at me and viewed me with skeptical eyes. Adding slang on top of it didn’t help. My friend and I catch one another and it has made me more aware of saying ‘Yes’ instead of ‘Yeah.’ Try saying it yourself. It will make you sound more sophisticated and will put a little pep in your step too.
So, anyways… I’ve noticed that SO many people use this to start their sentences now, myself included. It’s almost like every other opener has been disqualified and the word ‘so’ has taken their place. This is a new filler word and should be kept to a minimum. My accountant came up to me at a networking meeting and told me a story of his granddaughter. He said he asked her about the snow, how her ski trip was and what she was doing now. She’s six years old by the way, and he said that in front of every single sentence she started it with ‘so.’ He told me this story because I started out my conversation with him by saying, “So…”
These are just some of the words that people say that can make them sound less credible. I’ve noticed it in everyday life and I’m sure after reading this, some are going to stick out to you now too. Try testing this out with your vocabulary and challenge yourself to learn a new word each week. Incorporate it into your vocabulary and Voila! you’re speaking like the credible business professional you are.
Do you have any other additions to this list? Comment below.