Are you afraid of commitment? No, I don’t mean relationships – I mean words. I’ve noticed that I have tended to use what I call “weak words” when setting plans, or even in telling a story in normal conversation. I’m not alone either – many people are afraid to commit to a specific time, leaving them off the hook if the decide to not follow through later. It’s the same with details. Vague ideas have a lot of wiggle room to them, and thus their meaning can be easily adjusted later on.
This is really just about people not committing and taking ownership to their choices and opinions.
I noticed when I say things like “see you around 10ish”, what I’m really saying is “I’m unable to commit to an exact time, but I’ll try to see there within that time frame.” It would be much better to say simply “I can’t commit to a specific time, but you can expect me between 10 and 10:15” or to just commit to that time and arrive punctually.
When it comes to opinions, we often use weak words to not offend others. Things like “well, it’s kinda cool, but what if maybe do this instead?” are often said when we don’t really want or like it, but saying “no, I don’t like this” might offend the other. There’s a time and place for everything, but we definitely are watering down our message by speaking and writing like this.
The best way to change this is to simply omit the weak words from your life. After removing these words from your daily vocabulary, you will feel a lot of uneasiness in speaking without wishy-washy, wiggly, ambivalent language. You will find yourself speaking with much more attention, as if you’re a man of your word, you want to make sure you’re not making empty promises.
Our words have meaning. The language we use, whether you like it or rebel against it or not, has a direct impact on our lives. By speaking with more volition and specificity, we show up more congruently in our lives.
To do so is quite simple, albeit not always easy if you’re used to speaking sloppy and vaguely. Following the tips below, you can instantly change your language from weak to strong with little effort.
Get rid of filler words:
- and and and
- “ya’ know”
Get rid of unsure words:
- “I dunno”
- “we’ll see”
- “I guess”
- “I’ll try” (thanks Jason!)
Get rid of loose timing and approximation words:
- Be less indirect, and more direct
- Be specific
- Ask less questions, make more statements and commands
- Make declarations; pick a position and state it
- Don’t be afraid of opposition or a disfavorable response
- Take risks; be bold
- Ask for what you want (in the context of ecology of others)
- Stop seeking approval
- Commit to a specific time
- Use harder, more direct words; rather than soft, padded, gentle words
- Use cutting punctuation (. : ; –) rather than flowy punctuation (… ~ ‚)
- Use single punctuation (? . ! ?!) rather than multiple (???? .….….. ?!?!!!!!!!!)
These rules and suggestions can be applied to both spoken and written word respectively. Pay attention to the way you write and speak, as well as others, and see if you can feel the difference between using weak or strong language. The key is the feeling: how do you react when you hear or speak in such a way.
Before: “Hey, perhaps you’d like to do something sometime?”
After: “Hey, let’s go skinny dipping in Laguna Beach tonight at 8. Does that work for you?”
Before: “I kinda want to listen to hip-hop, but I’m not sure if that’s the best choice.”
After: “Let’s listen to Jay‑Z.”
Before: “Welllll, you know… I’m not sure if I really care for this.”
After: “I don’t like this spaghetti.”
Before: “The divine lightness bubbling about is flowing within all the goodness and radiant bliss from within the area of my pleasure-center.”
After: “I’m turned on and it feels amazing.”
Before: “So.… there’s something.. kinda like a dance fest tonight, around 9ish ~ what are you doing.…??”
After: “There’s a dance tonight at 9. Would you like to go with me?”
As you can tell, what’s communicated is drastically different between each, even though the same idea and intent is there. Both before and after are essentially saying the same thing, but the subtext and meaning actually communicated is drastically different.
This is not about being crass, heartless, cold, and strict – it’s simply a way to get you to commit to your ideas, plans, and communication. You don’t have to be a robot without expression; there’s a time and place for eeeeeverrryyything! Just don’t water down your power with weak words. Instead, speak with purpose and power.
Make a change in your own language? Feel a difference in committing to your (literal) word? Let me know in the comments now!
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