It’s commonly called jargon. And you’re going to have to learn it and speak it fluently if you want to get ahead in your chosen field. But increasing your vocabulary doesn’t just mean being a jargon ninja. CEOs and C-Level executives are usually highly educated people. If you want to occupy the rarefied C-Level atmosphere, you’re going to need the education to match.
Surprisingly, a well-educated person doesn’t always have multiple degrees to their name. They do have a great vocabulary. They have an awesome command of language. They not only know an impressive number of words but they know what they mean and how to use them quickly, intelligently and often with a wry twist of humour. An increased vocabulary is important if you want to climb the social ladder as well. People will listen to and respect the opinions of someone who can speak eloquently.
So what’s the best way to increase your vocabulary? Here are 7 tips.
Tip1: Get a Dictionary.
This is one of the best tools available. You can buy a hardcopy version or download an electronic version. Whichever you prefer, make sure you use it. It’s not a sign of weakness to be seen checking up on a word in the dictionary. It’s a sign of intelligence.
Tip2: Get a Thesaurus.
This is the next best tool for anyone who has even the smallest smidgen of ambition. This is where you find alternative words. If you’re struggling with the definition of a word in the dictionary, the list of alternative words will often bring clarity. For example, alternative words that you could use instead of ‘serendipitous’ includes, unexpected, opportune, unforeseen, unanticipated and chance. Using an electronic dictionary and thesaurus has the added advantage of constantly being up-to-date. Language changes and evolves constantly. New words are being invented every day. Words like ‘vlog’ are unlikely to be in the printed dictionary your dad used at school.
Tip 3: Start a Vocabulary Journal.
The moment you read or hear a word you’ve never heard before or you’re unsure of its meaning, write it down in the journal. Look it up in your Dictionary and your Thesaurus and jot down the meaning and the alternatives in the journal next to it.
Tip 4: Use the word.
Write out a few sentences using the word. Swap out the word with one of the alternatives and see if it still makes sense. Use the word as often as possible in conversation. You’ll soon discover if you’re using it correctly or not.
Tip 5: Read
The best way to not only increase your vocabulary but to improve your use of language, grammar and sentence structure is to read. Read, read, read. If you haven’t joined the Library and don’t have a Library card permanently stuck in your wallet, go join now and use that card regularly. Try to read at least one novel a week. If you’re not sure what novels to read, take the New York Times Best Seller List and read your way through all the books listed on it. Novels are best as they spark the imagination, and imagination is the best way to get your brain hunting for and picking and choosing which word to use when.
Tip 6: Read some more.
A good rule of thumb is to never go anywhere without a book. Instead of getting bored standing in the bank queue, read. Waiting for someone to join you in a coffee shop? Wait with a good book. Your vocabulary, and your career, will thank you.
Tip 7: Use the right word.
Having a good vocabulary isn’t about showing off the fact that you know not only what ‘serendipitous’ means but also how to spell it. No one likes a show-off. Having a good vocabulary and knowing how to use it means that you can pick and choose words to get your point across in the best way. One that will be understood, remembered and appreciated by your audience. ‘Unexpected’ might not sound as impressive as ‘serendipitous’, but more people in a large audience on the farm factory floor will understand you. Save ‘serendipitous’ for your speech to the Board.
Using the right word at the right time, and using it well, will get you noticed no matter what career you choose. But if you need, or would rather use a Wordsmith...