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OFF-TOPIC Thoughts >> Words >> Reality. Or How to Think clearer.

Rawr

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Taken from Tim Ferriss's excellent blog.
http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2007/07/27/the-10-most-common-words-you-should-stop-using-now/#more-104
Words are thoughts.
The better we choose our words, the more we hone our thinking machine, and just like software, it’s a case of GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Thinking hard is pointless if we don’t use the right tools.
Think and speak with precision. Less is often more. Here are 10 common words I have observed to cause stress, depression, and conflict due to their vagueness. All of them are overused to the point of being meaningless. The solution? Stop using them and find more descriptive alternatives. I recommend focusing on removing one or two each week, even if just as an exercise.
In no particular order…
1. Happiness
2. Success
3. Should
4. Responsible
5. Realistic
6. Reasonable
7. Spiritual
8. Good/Right
9. Bad/Wrong
10. Moral

Do you love some of these? Most of us do. But… try and define them without using an equally vague synonym or a tautology.
But why do we love them?
Because they remove the heavy lifting of real thinking. These socially-accepted throwaway terms are crutches for unclear thinking, just like “thingâ€, “stuffâ€, or “interestingâ€â€“enemies of good writers worldwide. But the above 10 are much more dangerous, as they encourage us to compare, judge, or fool ourselves and others.
Trim the fat and cultivate your thinking with more creative and expressive word choice. As Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.â€
/end





Your thoughts define your life. As you think you shall become - those who have undergone this process while observing the changes consciously know it works.

When I wrote for a newspaper, I had to force myself to write clearly and concise. Once you realize that there are people reading and judging your writing, using simplistic and vague words is not an option. To state your idea coherently and effectively one must cut off the ambiguity and hit the perfect combination.

What other words should be eradicated from our vocabularies? What techniques can we adopt in our language that will change our thoughts?

Recently, I have pinpointed a few:

When looking at something out of your league - instead of saying "I can't have this/afford this" ask yourself "How can I afford this?"

When coming to the conclusion of "It can't be done" add unless and follow your thought train.

Do not fall victim to tautology. Business presentations are cluttered with people who do not know the correct answer but will go around and repeat things in various ways to sound like they know what they are talking about. 90% of business class presentations end up like this in my school.

What would you like to eliminate from your vocabulary/thought pattern?
 

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Russ H

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REp speed for you, Rawr.

Good thinking points, here.

My first most hated word is "try", for all the reasons stated earlier. When I say "I'll try", it usually means I don't want to do it, or I think it's a waste of time (but can't say that to the person who asks, b/c it's important to them).

Hmm . . . other words . . .

I am frequently stoopid. I say the wrong things-- what comes out of my mouth is not what I meant. Writing things down solves this problem, as I can edit my thoughts and come off sounding more coherent (lots more coherent than I am live, in person).

When I first met my wife, I'd often say the wrong thing, and realize it as soon as I said it. So I'd exclaim "delete, delete, delete!", and re-frame/re-phrase what I'd just said.

She was amused by this (thank god), and it helped move things forward for us, because she came to understand that my social ineptitude was just that-- a marvelous capacity to mis-speak, but deep down, my heart was in the right place.

An example of my mis-speaking (from earlier days):

Our assistant manager (a very good friend of mine, had dinner w/her family on Thanksgiving, etc) had a new outfit on. My buddy Dennis and I walked up to her that morning, and I said, "Wow, new outfit! The color looks like . . ."

At which point Dennis said "Dusty rose" while I, simultaneously, said "Dirty pink".

Dennis and Lynn both looked at me, surprised.

Recovering quickly, Dennis smiled and said, "And that's why I go out on more dates than you."

He was right.

How we say things determines how others see us, and our eventual place in the world.

-Russ H.
 
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Rawr

Rawr

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Thanks Russ.

Saying things without thinking is a common problem. Here is one reason why it happens:

Talking too fast. This usually comes from insecurity that one has to talk to have a presence and gain attention. It is very hard to speak clearly when talking fast; your mind races and this is when a lot of tautology shows up - since one can't think faster, he keeps repeating himself. Otherwise you just say a lot of things to fill up space, falling a victim to quality for quality. A lot of "uhh" and "umm" show up when a person needs more time to think but feels he needs to speak. Taping yourself giving a speech helps greatly with this.

I have slowed down my speech by about 30% and it had benefited me vastly. It allows me to think what I will say through, to captivate the audience's attention, and to appear calm and composed at all times.

I recommend slowing down both your speech and body language by about 30% for two weeks and seeing what difference that makes in how you feel
 

Russ H

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Rawr-

Little known fact:

Once upon a time (4 or 5 years ago), I made about $60-80K a year doing public speaking, teaching workshops (it was a small part of my annual income, as I made $30-60K in one day).

I was able to get so much ($1200 pp per session) because of my expertise, and the fact that I was entertaining (and really knew my stuff).

Public speaking is a repetitive thing, though. It's saying things that I've said before, so (as with my writing), I can "hone" and edit my craft.

Where I fall short is speaking extemporaneously. Whether it's in person or on the phone, I talk too much, and say too little. I don't think things through enough before speaking.

You are 100% correct about wanting approval and feeling insecure. At no time was this more apparent than last year's RD get together, where I was in shell shock after RK yelled at me for asking him a simple question.

My presentation at last year's get together was terrible. I rambled, said really dumb things, and totally lost track of the time. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was one of the worst presentations I've done in the past 15 years. Ugh.

It's a testament to how cool the RD forum members are that no one ever brought it up, at least to me, or in public. I s*cked wind.

Rest assured I plan on being a bit more composed this year. What happened last year was quite unique-- I met my mentor-- someone whom I respected and admired, and wanted to propose doing business with-- and the person I met was NOT, in any way, the person I thought he was.

Oh well. Live and learn.

I think my greatest need (thing to work on) is to maintain my composure and not "blab" when I feel attacked. Perhaps I'll work on speaking slower.

At the very least, I'll focus on saying less, and thinking-- very deeply-- about what I say.

-Russ H.
 
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Rawr

Rawr

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Perhaps I should be taking lessons from you Russ, with all that experience! :)
I have had difficulties at times when speaking on a subject I am not 100% on, or when I'd imagine what people in the audience are thinking about my speech - a huge trap for me. I'd get flustered and usually start sweating.heavily. This is where talking extemporaneously actually saved me quite a bit - it usually stemmed from my knowledge picked up somewhere else and drawing parallels. One can relate concepts well when there is enough information.

For example - I was doing a sales speech for a class this year. It was about interviewing a sales person. I ran short on information, and had some time - so I asked for a marker and drew a diagram MJ had described a while before - between entrepreneur and a job, with one line having a constant slope and the other one increasing exponentially. I then drew a salesperson in the middle of the two - describing it as an appealing alternative to working a JOB. I got an A.

Sometimes I think of how what I am saying relates to the public. A lot of times it has very little to do with the audience (class mates in this case) but at times I was able to relate. We had to do a sales campaign for Jeep when Compass was coming out- and instead of adding more boring clutter I just took the mic and said "Who can't wait to buy a car once out of school?! Well pay attention, because these guys are going after you - they want you to buy their cars!" and just went with that.

Sorry I rambled a bit there - and don't be anxious about this year Russ. I will gladly suck worse than anyone to take the pressure away - but you'll do good, I'm sure!
 

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