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  • Writer's pictureJustin W Atherton

Vocabulary Awareness | Content Analysis

It is extremely important to work on this skill of being aware of our own vocabulary. The words we use when talking with others affects the actions we take. It is most important when we are talking about ourselves and our actions.

Jim Kwik talks about the power of our thoughts and this is a very similar concept. Our thoughts change our reality. If you constantly tell yourself that you are a particular way, you will make that true. We program our brains with the things we tell ourselves. If I tell myself, "I am bad at remembering people's names" I will program my brain to be bad at remembering people's names. Rephrase what you believe are your shortcomings. "I am putting in effort to being better at remembering names."

In a similar fashion we have a habit of undermining ourselves or downplaying our actions/impact on others. We talk to each other in a way where we think our intention to do something trumps that fact that we really did nothing. "I planned on going to the gym today." "I meant to go to the store." "I tried to be faithful to my spouse." What do these statements really say? They say I did nothing or I failed. Instead if we own the failure upfront, we can create corrective action behind it.

"I missed the gym today, I will be there in the morning." "I didn't go to the store. I am leaving in 5 minutes." See the difference? I'll leave the cheating spouse alone.

Over the next few weeks, pay specific attention to the words you use when talking to others and when talking to yourself in your own head. Another way to practice this skill is to observe the vocabulary that others use when they speak.

Your homework: write down the undermining language you realize that you use frequently. Keep track of how often you use each word over the next few weeks. Perfection is not required. Look at the impact of using this specific language in your life. The impact could be different if the vocabulary is used outwardly or internally.

Here is a reminder of the grouping of words:

Minimizing language: Words such as just, simply and merely can be ways that we lower the impact of our past actions onto ourselves or others. How can you rephrase your words to take full ownership of your actions?

Stop Action Verbs: In the same way that trying implies failure, words such as started, wanted, planned and meant to can be ways we trick ourselves and others into believing that we succeeded when in fact we have failed at the specific task. It could imply that the task was never begun at all.

Absolutes: Absolutes are a great way to exaggerate your ideas. They most often lead to heated debates or arguments over the validity of their use. Some examples of absolutes would be all, always, every, no, none, never and onlyIn my opinion, absolutes are always never a good idea to use. See what I did there? These words are most prevalent when we argue with each other.

But: Another word that will erase any good intentions is but. This is another common word that most of us have felt the wrath of. The word but will destroy any compliment or good intention. It is a word that I have made a point to very rarely use. I suggest when you speak or write to do one of two things. You can replace the word but with and, or just create two separate sentences completely.

Equivocation: One way to avoid committing to what one is saying or speaking with deliberate vagueness is by using equivocal words. These are words and phrases such as sort of, might have, think, maybe, possibly, about, like and kind of. Pay attention to how these phrases show up for you and the topics of conversation.

Leave a comment with your results. What words do you use most frequently?

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