Here are five words and short phrases that most people should consider eliminating from their vocabularies.
When I wrote my book The Honest Spin Doctor a few years ago, I used voice recognition software to write it instead of sitting at my desk and typing each word. Each day, for about two weeks, I dictated a chapter and when I was done I needed to spend an hour or so doing some editing to clean up mistakes made by either me or the software. By the end of each day, I had a chapter written.
When I sent it to a book editor to work her magic, she took out a ton of words – likely more than 10% of what I had written. She remarked how many extra words I used. I told her I used voice dictation software and her reply was “Well that explains it.”
When we speak, we use extra words that aren’t necessary, but we throw them into our conversation for three reasons. To begin with, it’s easy. It doesn’t take any effort to add words. Secondly, we hear others use these words, so we think we have to use them too. Finally, people think those extra words make what they’re saying sound better, or help make their point stronger.
They can, but they also can detract from what we’re saying. Here are five words or phrases you should scrap from your vocabulary.
There’s a Tim Hortons TV commercial that was recently on that hit me like fingernails on a blackboard. A young actress plays the role of a customer and she talks about how she likes to treat herself “Every single day.”
I always think how stupid it sounds to add the word “single” to statements like this. Saying ‘every day” means the same thing. I often wonder if they should substitute the word “single” for “double” or “triple”, as in “I like to treat myself every double day.”
The word "different" is getting to be the same. I've heard many people add it to what they're saying to try to make their point stronger. Over the weekend I heard a curling announcer say "Many different ways." Saying "many ways" is the same thing.
A Little Bit
Former Blue Jays analyst Pat Tabler used this phrase 20-times a game. Not only was it a habit for him, it took away from the point he was trying to make. Here’s an example. “He turned his body sideways just a little bit.” Although just “a little bit” might be an effective way to describe something, it also can detract from the statement. Wouldn’t simply saying “He turned his body sideways” be stronger?
I’ve found when a sports announcer or analyst would offer some form of a negative comment or criticism of a player or team, the phase “a little bit” was often used, as in “They’re off their game a little bit.” It’s a way to make a statement, but doing it without trying to offend the player or team. It’s polite, but “a little bit” detracts from the statement of the analyst.
This two-word phrase gets added into conversations far too often. It’s usually unnecessary (see above). If somebody says “It’s kind of dark”, wouldn’t it be better to say “It’s dark” or “It’s too dark.” I also find that “kind of” gets turned into a sloppy sounding “kinda” too often.
If the phrase is used to make a comparison, then it would be better to use the words “It’s similar to” which would be far more effective than “kind of”.
The example below shows how useless "kind of" can be.
Far too often these days people are starting their replies to others with the word “Yeah” as in, “Yeah, you know they sure played well last night.” What’s wrong in replying “They sure played well last night.” I just find it a useless word, that’s unnecessary.
I also chuckle when I hear somebody say “Yeah….no”. What?
If you want to read more about Yeah, I wrote a blog in it.
This is much like “Yeah.” People are using it at the start of a statement, as in “So, we got groceries last night.” Normally when “so” is used, there’s a slight pause after it and people start to tell a story. It’s conversational and it’s fine, but it’s a useless word. Saying “We got groceries last night” has the same meaning.
When Dr. Deena Hinshaw started doing news conferences on COVID three years ago, many of her answers to questions from reporters started with the word “So” because she was backing into her answers and wanted to explain the background before giving her answer. That’s the wrong way to do it. Answer first and explain second and don’t start with “So.”
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