We’re all tempted to use words that we’re not too familiar with. We throw them around in meetings, e-mails and important documents (such as resumes and client proposals), and they land, like fingernails across a chalkboard, on everyone who has to hear or read them.
No matter how talented you are or what you’ve accomplished, using words incorrectly can change the way people see you and forever cast you in a negative light. You may not think it’s a big deal, but if your language is driving people up the wall you need to do something about it.
It’s the words that we think we’re using correctly that wreak the most havoc, because we don’t even realize how poorly we’re coming across. After all, TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence of more than a million people and found that self-awareness is the area where most people score the lowest.
We’re all guilty of this from time to time, myself included.
When I write, I hire an editor to review my articles before I post them online. It’s bad enough to have a roomful of people witness your blunder and something else entirely to stumble in front of 100,000!
Often, it’s the words we perceive as being more “correct” or sophisticated that catch us by surprise when they don’t really mean what we think they do. These words have a tendency to make even really smart people stumble.