Re-evaluate Your Professional Vocabulary

Communication is vital within the workplace, especially within human resource management. The vocabulary used in a work environment should be formal and intellectual to ensure you are being viewed in a professional way.

There are ten words and expressions that should be removed from your lexicon and leave you conveying your message in a stronger and thoughtful manner. These include:

  • Speech disfluencies such as “um” and “er”: These words are simple fillers that can detract from your credibility and seem like you are underprepared. Rather than uttering these muffled sounds, take a pause and gather your thoughts before you begin.
  • “I mean”: A phrase that is unnecessary because it is implied that you already mean what you’re saying.
  • “Can’t”: This has a negative connotation that the situation is “impossible” and therefore, lacks resilience. Replace it with words such as “won’t”, “don’t” or “shouldn’t” which aren’t as permanent.
  • “Etcetera” (etc.): Implies there are more examples that you aren’t bothering to list or think enough about. Instead of saying “Have you restocked the paper, pens, pencils etc.”, end it with “paper, pens, pencils and other stationery items”, which is more specific.
  • “Honestly”: Suggests that you were not being honest previously to this statement.
  • “Just”: Another filler word that is used frequently but rarely needed. It tends to negate from the message, so rather than saying “Just wondering what you thought…” say “What did you think”.
  • “Things”: This word is often meaningless and can be exchanged with expressions that are more descriptive. “How are things going with the report?” won’t give the exact answer you want, whereas “Where are you with the report and how it’s progressing?”
  • “Sorry”: People should to stop apologising when they are not at fault or they’re not actually sorry. Instead of “Sorry, I can’t make it tomorrow afternoon”, offer a solution or counterpoint, “I am unavailable then. Are you available the day after?”
  • “Hopefully”: Within the workplace, people don’t want hope, they want the result delivered. Switch “Hopefully, I’ll receive it by Friday” with “I expect it by Friday and if I don’t receive it, I will follow up”.

Removing these words and expressions from your professional vocabulary can allow you to be taken more seriously as there will be more sophistication within your emails, phone calls and during meetings. However, verbal communication isn’t all that’s required, it’s important to also consider your non-verbal feedback which includes body language.

Is your staff speaking in a professional manner to clients and representing the business well? Speak to us at HR Leading Edge and see how we can help you with any training and development you need.


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