Self-development expert Jim Rohn once made the important point that “all of life is sales.” Throughout each day of our life journeys, we are all involved in some form of communication, seeking to win a hearing and persuade others for mutual benefit.
I’ve listened to some older success audio by the late Earl Nightingale over the past year. One of the points Earl made was the fact that people in very powerful and influential positions in business are characterized by their expansive vocabularies. A large and varied command of language carries with it the potential for advancement and increased income for its possessor.
I love words. Just ask my wife. And I get bored easily with clichés. Aren’t you tired of hearing things like “awesome,” “been there, done that” and “just sayin'”? I’m sure others are too. The use of a cliché often betrays laziness if nothing else. We all need color and freshness of expression. It enriches life in a profound way.
It’s been said that the difference between a sparse versus a rich vocabulary is a mere 3500 words. Ponder that for a moment. By taking time to learn new words and fresh expressions, you can elevate your powers of persuasion, influence and earning.
Here are some tips to grow your vocabulary and your station:
- Read widely. One public figure whose stunningly rich vocabulary sets him apart from the rank-and-file is political commentator George Will. One might not always agree with a position Will espouses but listening to him articulate it is a treat—candy for the ear. As well, read novelists who’ve distinguished themselves as wordsmiths. Ralph McInerny and Daniel Silva are favorites of mine. As well fine writers like Morris West and Eugene Peterson.
- Read with a dictionary close by. Corollary to the above bullet point. I have a Kindle Fire® reader. It has the advantage of a built-in dictionary–the New Oxford American Dictionary– that activates when you highlight a word in your downloaded books. If a word is unfamiliar to you, look it up. Then begin using it in your own speaking and writing.
- Use new words in speech as appropriate. The rule is to prefer the shorter word if it conveys the precision and color you are looking for. But using just the right word trumps all. Take a little time before speaking and seek to say something in a new and winsome way.
- Learn foreign languages. My own studies of French, Russian, Hebrew and Greek have all helped me to understand my own English and to communicate more vigorously. President Richard Nixon once commended the study of Latin because 1) it is the most orderly of all languages and 2) it is foundational for much of our own language.
One of the goals we should each strive for is to give those with whom we interact a superior experience to that which they are currently enjoying or loathing. New words bring color and freshness. And everyone thrives on that. Be the source.