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8 Common Words You Don’t Know Are Making You Sound Unreliable

8 Common Words You Don’t Know Are Making You Sound Unreliable

Communication becomes more casual every day. Ten years ago, we never would have felt comfortable including a smiley face in an email to our boss, but now in 2017, that seems less unprofessional.

While speaking and writing tend to have different guidelines, we still tend to have more fillers when speaking vs. typing a social media post or a quick message to a coworker. When we speak, we tend to allow ourselves more fillers; I’ll never forget the time one of my professors in college asked us to count the number of times we said, “like” in one day. Maybe I was hyper-aware, but the number was astronomical.

While it may seem like a small thing at first, the amount of times we use filler words like “um” or “like” in a conversation can make us appeal unreliable, no matter how educated or dependable we may be.

Your Word Choice Reflects Your Personality

It’s no surprise that word choice and expression says a lot about someone’s personality, but even the regularity in which words or word categories are used can speak volumes about a person.

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Psychologist James W. Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin is one of many experts who assert that the way a person expresses thought reveals character. Any time a person speaks, they make choices – choices regarding appropriate nouns and verbs. Those small aspects are part of a bigger context which can provide clues into an individual’s large-scale behaviors [1]. Some researchers are so fascinated by this that they have created software to monitor a person’s word choice in order to predict the way they will act in the future.

8 Toxic Words to Avoid

Here is a list of words to limit in daily conversation. I promise you all it takes is a once-over and you’ll suddenly realize how often you’re saying every single one of them!

Al Verbs: Might, Should, Maybe and Would

While these are some of the most common verbs in the english language, all they do is make the speaker sound unsure of himself. Modal Verbs include, “Might,” “should,” “maybe,” and “would.” While these verbs are easy to include in casual conversation, think about how insincere it makes a friend sound when you invite them to hang out and they reply with something like, “Yeah, maybe. I might have something going on, but I’ll let you know…” The next time you find yourself wanting to use this kind of verb, allow yourself a short pause and mentally delete the words when uttering the sentence. It’ll feel unnatural at first, but before long you’ll be a pro.

Ok

I think we can all agree this is one of the most annoying responses to get when texting someone. Second only to “k,” “Ok” is such a blah response. It makes you sound indifferent and unsure. Plus it’s not even a descriptive term! It basically means “satisfactory.” Who wants that? In text form, it can read like the end of a conversation or even a passive aggressive way to try to be agreeable. These two letters serve as a self-protecting mechanism to avoid giving concrete statements that could be hurtful. If someone asks for your opinion and you regularly offer “Yeah, it’s ok” to avoid hurting them, then you need to understand why it’s not ok to say ok !

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Awesome

This word is tricky. If someone tells you about an incredible trip they just took and you respond with, “Wow! That sounds awesome!” you’re probably being sincere. But if you tend to offer up this word regularly, you probably sound a little dense. Sorry! Saying “Awesome!” all the time makes people feel like you don’t have any of your own opinions. I know, I know, it’s just a word. But think about it for a second: When was the last time you were having a conversation and your friend seemed to say “awesome,” “oh wow. Awesome,” and “cool” after every other sentence? I’ve been in that situation before and it was really frustrating! I didn’t doubt that my friend actually felt that everything I was saying was “awesome,” but the overuse of the word became insincere quickly and made me want to stop sharing my story. It’s a vague word and usually over-exaggerated. I’d rather someone use multiple words to show enthusiasm or give me a compliment than just recycle one word over and over.

Um

Perhaps the most common filler word, “um” is, um, super, um, annoying! I hate to tell you this, but you probably say it so much more often than you realize. For one full day, try to keep a mental tally of how, um, often you, um say, “um.” It’s going to shock you. Even if you’re an intelligent person, overuse of the word makes you seem a bit delayed when it comes to processing thoughts. It’s simple enough to replace it. Instead of saying, “um,” try: “Let me think for a while.” You’re accomplishing the same goal, but the longer sentence gives you a proactive appearance and proves you want to take control the situation.

Like

Stop. Using. This. Filler. Word. If you have ever tried to sit through an hour of reality TV, then you know the word, “like” is the most common word (like) ever. If you’re oblivious enough to have never noticed it, you’re lucky. Once you start noticing, you can’t stop. The filler word makes you sound childish and it usually isn’t a necessary filler. While you could replace it with “such as” or something similar, if you really analyze a sentence before you speak it, you’ll find you don’t need it at all.

Actually

This word actually isn’t necessary in a majority of situations. The word itself tends to give the impression that whatever was uttered before was not true. If you take the time to look at sentences with this word, you’ll find that nearly all of them can be deleted without changing the meaning/message, while it makes the tone stronger and more direct. For example: The word choices you make can go a long way in showing the kind of person you are. Actually, word choices can predict the kind of person you can be in a conversation. The statement is redundant.

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Sorry

This apology can make you seem weak and insecure if used in the wrong context. While you should always want to apologize if a situation warrants it, using “sorry” too often or even habitually can lead to you seeming embarrassed and afraid. If you’re actually wanting to apologize for something, feel free to use the word. But if you’re embarrassed or nervous, explain those emotions in different terms.

Hopefully

While the word itself seems like it should be optimistic, it actually has the opposite effect: using this word implies you aren’t determined or confident enough! For example, if you were my boss and you asked that I have something done and on your desk in two hours, which response would you rather hear from me:

No problem. I’ll take care of that now and get it back to you shortly.

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Ok, sure. Hopefully it takes me a little less than two hours. I’ll bring it by when I’m done.

The second response doesn’t say outright that I won’t have the task completed, but it sure doesn’t seem confident. Hopefully means you don’t feel in control of something or confident enough you can create a change. In life, it will sometimes be necessary to be hopeful rather than overly confident, but when it comes to work situations, try to avoid the word as best you can.

The great thing about the list above is that it doesn’t take much effort to implement. In fact, all that’s required to stop using these unreliable-sounding words is self-awareness. Today is a new day. Be present in all conversations and realize how often you’re using the words listed. Then take the steps to replace them and ultimately delete them from casual chats and messages. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.

Reference

More by this author

Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

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    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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