When you discuss your personal finances with someone, how do you describe them? Ok, you may not ever actually reveal your true personal finances to people since after all they are personal, but, if you are like most people and have the need and desire to be loved and respected, you may on an occasion (or ten) have taken a few minutes to brag about them in terms that just may not be 100% on target. And when you do, you may use the words amazing, incredible, or awesome…but in all probability, they’re not described by any of those overused words!
Amazing, incredible, and awesome—do those three words sound familiar? They should. Why? Because you hear them every single day over and over again to the point that you may start to cringe when you do hear them. I think I am actually well past the cringing myself and I sometimes feel that I may have to be restrained by a loved one when I hear someone using those words over and over again.
Most things we all converse about are not that amazing, incredible, or even close to being awesome. And when that has something to do with someone’s job and finances, the truth is that for most of us, we could never honestly say it using those words.
Yes, I Know Language Is Evolving
What is said today is not the way we said it 100 years ago, or even 40 or 20 years ago. That’s because language evolves. I can’t imagine saying things like “shucks” when I’m a little embarrassed or “peepers” when referring to someone’s glasses, but those were words that were super common back about 50 years ago. The big difference about that kind of language usage was that it was usually said in informal settings. Even more so, the words—although heavily used—had meanings that were accurate within their context. I get “peepers” when referring to someone’s eyes and seeing.
The kinds of words like amazing and awesome, however, are not new words and yet they are now so overused and twisted in today’s language that they have simply lost all of their original meanings—and that is different and a shame and fully “cringe-worthy”.
The Importance of Language
Accuracy is very important when you speak. Most of the time descriptive words are subjective, but these overused words such as the three I have mentioned do not describe whatever the thing that is being described very accurately.
Going to the moon 50 years ago this week in Apollo 11 was incredible. Pitching a perfect baseball game is something that’s pretty rare and is really awesome! Getting a perfect SAT score on your college entrance exam is amazing! But, getting two weeks off for a vacation from your job or opening up a new savings account that is paying you 2.5% interest simply isn’t. And then there is the biggie:
Unless you are someone like a Bill Gates, then your personal finances are more than likely not “totally awesome”. See what I mean?
What Links You to Your Success?
I am willing to confess here and now that what I’m about to say has no scientific evidence behind it except what I have drawn from my own personal painful observances and experiences. If you are still here with me, thank you, and see if you get what I am saying.
In life, you will be judged by many things that you may have no or very little control over and it may in fact hurt you in your goal to become a success. The success I am speaking about is mostly monetary, like at work, but also in your everyday experiences to network and/or to build relationships, too. One of those “judgy” things is language. It can and will impact your personal finances.
If you are less than six feet tall, you probably aren’t going to be a pro basketball player. If you aren’t what society says is considered to be conventionally attractive (like having a huge nose a la Jimmy Durante) you can likely scratch off “leading man or movie star” from your wish list. Until the later part of the 20th century, if you were a woman you weren’t going to be the CEO of any major U.S. business corporation either. We shouldn’t be very proud or comfortable about that, but we have been dealing with those kinds of things ever since man first crawled out from under a rock. Some things may never change.
Language Skills “Speak” Louder Than Words
But one thing that you do have some control over that can help you in your quest for personal and financial success is your use of language.
It doesn’t matter what country you live in or what language is spoken there, using good grammar and vocabulary when you speak helps you appear to think more logically and distinctly and intelligently. It also gains you more acceptability and access. That’s why it’s so important that you develop effective communication skills and you improve your fluency in language(s) used wherever you live and work.
So here is my basic complaint. Please don’t overuse or try and reinvent words and their meanings. Leave that to the people at Miriam-Webster.
The Consequences of Your Language Choices
Remember the days when the big funny was mocking the “valley girl” style of speech used by stereotypical California girls of the 1980’s. “Like, ye-ahh I totally do!” If you were a hiring manager, what would you be thinking when you heard that from someone interviewing for a job?
On the more serious side though, think about anyone you meet today who has some off-putting way of speaking or who doesn’t speak “proper” English (or whatever language you happen to speak where you live and work) and how you judge them.
English as a Second Language
I know that we have many people here in the U.S. who were not raised using English as their primary language and may speak with a distinct accent, but I am not talking about that situation. Ironically, many of the people who have migrated and live here have made a real effort to learn English and use it extremely well. They normally never overuse or re-invent words just because it is some kind of trendy hip thing to do.
Assuming they are not just visiting here and have no reason to ever speak the language, language is the number one thing you observe about them and thus judge (other than someone’s appearance). It can and does matter a lot. Language skills and successes are linked.
5 Reasons Why Your Language Skills Are So Important
Here’s what I think are the most important things about language skill:
- It is very beneficial when you are meeting people and/or applying for a job to speak properly for the environment you are in
- Poor usage of grammar gives a negative impression of you
- Speaking properly allows you to be able to pass your message on more clearly and enhances your image to others
- Poor language can hurt your reputation as a professional
- Poor language prevents you from gaining credibility
10 More Words to Run From!
You can also add “literally, unique, totally, basically, really, very, honestly, absolutely, unbelievable, and so” to my cringe list!
OMG, these extra ten words are starting to become core language in English and it really scares me. Every one of these words is overused, misused, and is rapidly going the way of ummmm as the pregnant pause when it comes to conversations. “So”… I hate it.
Gordon “Freakin” Ramsay
Let me give you a blatant example of why I feel this way. My wife occasionally likes watching Gordon Ramsay (not to be confused with Dave Ramsey) and since it’s on, I sit and watch his show alongside her. If you haven’t seen his TV show MasterChef or its spawn, MasterChef Junior (both major ratings hits), let me fill you in just a tad.
It’s a cooking competition where along with some drama and a little humor, “home cooks” vie for the rewards (lots of cash) to win the title of “Best Home Cook in America” and thus become a “MasterChef”.
If you watch just one episode, I dare you to count the number of times they use the words “incredible” and “amazing”.
You simply can’t keep track, because it numbers in the hundreds or is it the thousands? I don’t know for sure simply because I lose consciousness at some point from it (and I’m not kidding here).
For the record, apples and oranges are not “incredible” or “amazing”, but are rather perfectly common and found in almost every country around the world! They grow on trees for God’s sake and are not “incredible” by virtue of just that fact alone! Sometimes, they may taste “awesome”, but you get my point.
Yes, it is true that Gordon Ramsay is a huge success despite his annoying speech patterns (and very unusual hair stylings). I admit he blows my language usage theory to pieces, but I will not change my opinion despite his success. There are always exceptions to a rule and he just might be the one.
Can I get a small commitment from you out there to please try and not go soooooo overboard with overusing words that just don’t fit in? I’m not calling for a complete ban on these words, but instead, take the list of these overused words as a reminder that sometimes the words we say don’t mean very much. A chocolate cookie to you may just be awesome, but maybe not to everyone?
If you really want to express heartfelt enthusiasm for something like a cookie or your best friend’s dream job offer, don’t mindlessly say that it’s just awesome, or even add on some cheap emphasis to it by saying “totally awesome” (totally technically means “completely, in every way and part,” but here it would just be a vague note of emphasis). Maybe your friend’s accomplishment is awe-inspiring, or thrilling, or well-deserved, or warms the cockles of your heart. Some thoughts are worth expressing as meaningfully as possible and it won’t make me (or anyone else) cringe when you do.
Do these misuses or overuses of words or phrases bug you? Have you seen or experienced the effect of improper language skills in your life and if so, how? What do you do to insure you always present yourself in the most positive and best light through language when you interact at your job or relationships? Do you think I’m a little crazy and does it really matter?