Building Your VocADulary: 4 Words to Add Or Remove from Your Professional Vernacular

by Ad 2 Tampa Bay | March 18, 2015

In growing my young advertising career, I’ve learned some invaluable lessons from mentors and personal experience. Surprisingly, many of these lessons have revolved around everyday diction, and how your perspective changes with even the most subtle of changes. Remember: words do not have the power to hurt you; only your perception of them.

1. Add: “Thank You” – This one will seem quite obvious. In a creative industry, we put a lot of ourselves in our work and feel a lot of pride because of it. We absolutely deserve to, yet “thank you” keeps us humble. More important than that, though, is the opposite. Especially for young professionals, we often qualify compliments we receive by responding to the kudos with, “I was just riffing off the brief,” or, “Bob helped me a lot.” While it’s always nice to recognize a helping hand, we often discredit ourselves and our work due to a lack of self-confidence. The next time you receive a compliment, stop, catch yourself before you qualify your achievement, and simply say “thank you.”

2: Remove: “But” – This is not an absolute removal— “but” is often necessary or can slip into a sentence without much detriment. The one thing to remember, though, is that “but” has negative connotations. It halts collaboration, and can often make the person you’re talking to feel defeated. In an industry where the open exchange of ideas is paramount to success, try substituting “but” for “and”. “And” statements often signal openness, while still communicating the idea you’re trying to communicate. Instead of “your idea was good, but it was off strategy,” try, “I love that idea, and maybe we can iterate on it to more closely align with the strategy!”

 3. Remove: “Should” – A mentor of mine brought this to my attention. “Should” provides no real value to a conversation. It’s an empty obligation, and never really communicates the idea you’re trying to communicate anyway. Every time, choose another word that provides more justification and reasoning. Do we listen to client feedback because we should? No. We listen to client feedback because they bring a unique perspective to the conversation that allows our own team to collaborate with them to create the most effective solution. Always search for the deeper meaning.

 4. Add: “Why” – For many reasons, “why” helps elevate a conversation. It helps us uncover the true value of an idea. For instance, if you’re having a difficult time figuring out how to remove “should” from your sentence, consider asking yourself “why” five times. Eventually, you’ll find yourself at the root of the problem or solution. Why is a powerful tool that shows you understand ideas, clients, and co-workers on a strategic level. This will build trust, relationships, and partnerships between you, and those you’re dealing with.

 By making these subtle changes to your everyday word choice, you’ll start seeing yourself and your ideas in a whole new light! One that is positive, purposeful, and professional.

Kris Solberg | President