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Increase Your Vocabulary, and You’ll Increase Your Success in the Workplace
Believe it or not, businesspeople sometimes ask me why it’s important to expand their vocabulary. I always thought the reason for having a big vocabulary was obvious, but apparently not. I found two articles, “Top 5 Reasons Why Vocabulary Matters,” and “Why a Substantial Vocabulary Is Important,” that explain very clearly why businesspeople need a rich and varied vocabulary. Here is a compilation of the articles’ main points.
A study of children’s communication skills—this research also applies to adults—discovered five reasons why vocabulary is so important:
- It Improves Reading Comprehension. Research has shown that children need to understand 98% of the words they read to understand what they are reading. Improving vocabulary skills will improve their understanding of novels and textbooks.
- It’s Important to Language Development. Children who develop a rich vocabulary tend to be deeper thinkers, express themselves better and read more. Improving language and literacy skills early in life will help them be more successful academically and communicatively.
- Communicating Ideas. Successful communication or “saying what you mean” is dependent upon a good vocabulary base. Using the right words when talking, makes you a more effective communicator.
- Expressing Yourself in Writing. Having a good vocabulary to draw from can help you write more effectively. Students need to use a more formal tone—not conversational language— when writing and to do that, they need a richer vocabulary to tap into those words we don’t use when we speak.
- Occupational Success. Researcher Johnson O’Connor found that “a person’s vocabulary level is the best single predictor of occupational success.” Success in the business place depends on your communication skills.
Six Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary
Before you toss aside the idea of expanding your vocabulary because you don’t want to grind through flashcards, check out these strategies that prove learning new words can be anything but boring:
- Read materials outside your comfort zone, noticing and learning the words you don’t know. If you’re an artist, for example, read a book about zoology, space, or politics. Novels from different time periods also contain different words and usages that can significantly help expand your vocabulary.
- Talk to people with varying interests, and listen to the words they use. We all have different life experiences that have shaped our vocabularies in different ways. We have a lot to learn from each other.
- Make learning fun through board games, like Scrabble, and educational apps, like Elevate.
- Diversify your hobbies. Activities like fishing, kickboxing, and yoga, for example, come with their own sets of jargon.
- Make it a point to use the new words you learn. This will reinforce your knowledge.
- Finally, note that it’s not simply the size of your vocabulary that’s important; it’s the manner in which you use your words. A large vocabulary shouldn’t be used for showing off. Rather, it should be used to expand your thinking and communicate more effectively on your path to becoming a more well-rounded, curious, and engaged individual.
- There is a Starbucks cup in every scene (except the last one) of Fight Club.
- The dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy in 1962 sold at auction for $4.8 million.
- From the 5th to the 16th centuries in Britain, a popular pastime was “flyting”—where people traded insults using satire, rhetoric, and early bathroom humor to insult each other (a precursor of “rap battles”?).
- In the original draft of the movie Back to the Future, instead of a DeLorean car, the time machine was supposed to be a: bus, refrigerator, shed, outhouse? (Fun Facts Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
Word of the Month
assiduous | uh- SID-you-us | adjective
• showing great care, attention, and effort
“Keith was assiduous about hiring only the best, most experienced salespeople.”
Wacky & Wise Websites
Click here to read 10 sweet facts about the movie Napoleon Dynamite.
Click here to discover 7 terrifying historical remedies for migraine headaches.
American Express, Amgen, Cisco Systems, Department of the Navy, Fluor Corporation, General Electric, Motorola, The New York Public Library, Procter & Gamble, SEAL Team Six, State of Utah, Supreme Court of Virginia, United Way, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Food & Drug Administration
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SATisfy Your Curiosity
SAT Exam practice question: Fill in the blanks with the words that complete the meaning of the sentence.
Although the acreage involved in a national boundary dispute may seem insignificant, even the slightest ____ in a country’s alleged border appears ____ to that nation, a threat to its security.
(SAT Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
Saved by the bell, which means “to be rescued from a difficult situation,” comes from the world of boxing. It originally and quite literally referred to a boxer who was about to be beaten into submission only to have the bell ring, signaling the end of round. The oldest known citation of the phrase is from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of January 30, 1891: “In the fourth round Ramsey nearly knocked out Hennessey, who was very groggy, but was saved by the bell, and came up well for the fifth.” The earliest non-sports use of the phrase was in a Los Angeles Times article published July 31, 1932, entitled, “Saved by the Bell.” The body of the article begins with this sentence: “Whenever Charlie Chaplin and Michael Arlen meet, they have an agreement whereby each is permitted to talk about himself without interruption for five minutes by the clock.”
Answer: Breach/ominous. Here’s why: While “ominous” comes closest to conveying threat, “traumatic” makes some sense; however, only “breach” fits logically in the first blank.
Fun Facts Answer
In the original draft of the script, the time machine was attached to a refrigerator and taken to the atomic bomb test site in the Nevada desert. It was then strapped into the back of a truck and driven into the atomic explosion in order to harness the power from the nuclear explosion to transport Marty McFly back to the future. Marty had to climb into the refrigerator as the truck barreled towards ground zero.