Three Vocabulary Hacks

by @deanyeong | Sign up to weekly newsletter here

Imagine the world without language and word.

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You can’t read this because I can’t even write this.

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No, you can’t even think about this. How do you even understand who you are, why you are here for, and what you wanted to do? That’s the power of words. We give meaning to every situation and event in our life, we create stories to resonate with our circumstances, and we communicate and share our feelings and thoughts. All of these are only possible because of words.

But our vocabulary is just a medium. Just like the internet and guns, they are just a medium; it really depends on how one person is using it. Often, most people use words in many harmful and destructive ways, to show disrespect to someone else or belittle him or herself.

While there are many ways to change your life using the right vocabularies, here are three simple changes you can make to see some results instantly. They make you sound more confident, feeling happier and showing your respect to someone else.

If You’re Sorry, Say Thank You

In everyday life, we might find ourselves apologizing for everything, even it’s clearly not our fault.

Every time you use the word “sorry”, it basically makes your speech sound like an apology. With that, people perceive this in a way that you were guilty or messed something up. The truth is, in most cases, you done nothing wrong and don’t really feel sorry for it.

say thank you

By changing your vocabulary to “thank you”, you can instantly change the mood and way it is perceived. It acknowledges that you appreciate someone who cared for you, which is a very nice thing to do and makes both parties feel great.

  • Say “Thank you for your patience” instead of “Sorry I am always late”
  • Say “Thank you for listening” instead of “Sorry I am just rambling”
  • Say “Thank you for understanding me” instead of “Sorry I am not making too much sense”

Seriously, you don’t need to say sorry simply for your existence.

Replace Have to with Get to

I believe we all experience the feeling of unwillingness when we have to get back to the office for works on Monday, or have to travel a long way back during the final weekend of the month to visit our parents.

What we never realize is that it’s a privilege to have a job that put food on the table, and it’s an honor to still have the opportunity to see and spend the moment with our parents. We should feel ashamed for the lack of gratefulness.

use get to

Start appreciating people, thing and event in life by replacing “have to” with “get to”. Rather than complaining or feeling bad about things you “have to” do or challenges you “have to” go through, think a little differently. You “get to” experience and do them.

For example:

  • have to work every day for 10 hours → I get to work every day for 10 hours.
  • have to take care of my parents → I get to take care of my parents
  • have to please and pamper my wife all the time → I get to please and pamper my wife all the time

Appreciation and gratefulness are the most powerful feelings to make you feel happier. Think about it, you can’t feel grateful and angry at the same time, and you can’t feel helplessness and appreciation at the same time too.

While you can’t fully control the situation that directly affects your emotions, you can definitely change your vocabulary to lift yourself up when the time is tough. Have to make everything feels like an obligation, while get to makes everything feels like a blessing.

Stop Saying You’re Welcome

Since when we were kids, our parents and teachers taught us to say “You’re welcome” when someone else say thank you to us. Give it a little thought, what it actually means? While most people were trained to say that since the young age, it became a habit. You’re triggered to say that when someone thanked you.

It’s nothing wrong at all, but there is a better alternative for this phrase.

stop using you're welcome

Rather saying what we have been told, say “I know you’d do the same for me.” when someone say “thank you” to you.

This phrase tells the person who received your favor that someday you may need help too, but it’s not just about that. I believe we should always provide value in the first place without the expectation of any return.

What’s really powerful is that “I know you’d do the same for me” signals to the person that you believe he or she is honorable and someone who will reciprocate. It shows your respect and trust to that person, and it further strengthens your relationship with him or her.

Of course, this might not be applicable in many cases and scenarios, especially on very little matters or to a stranger. You can use “It’s my pleasure to help” or “I’m happy to do it”.

What about “I know you’d do the same for someone else”? You can use this phrase when you’re certain there is no way for that person to reciprocate, but you think (and want) him or her to pay it forward.

They all do more than “you’re welcome”.

Apply Them Now

You can read a thousand books without applying any lesson you learned from them, then, you will get nothing. What I do hope is that you read just one book and apply everything in it.

Same as these vocabulary hacks, there are hundreds of ways in improving your vocabulary to transform your life for the better. Simply aware of them is not enough; learning without applying does nothing. Instead, apply these three now to start seeing changes in your life.

Ready?

Keep me posted on your progress.

FOOTNOTES

  1. I read about the idea of saying thank you instead of sorry on Mental Floss, originated from a Chinese artist Yao Xiao who is currently based in Queens, New York.
  2. I’m trying my best to use some other words with better meaning to replace “you’re welcome” after reading the book Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki, where I picked up the concept of “I know you’d do the same for me.” originated from Robert Cialdini.

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  • I think I like the idea of ‘I get to’ rather than ‘I have to’ more.
    And I know this wasn’t meant as a language guide yet there shouldn’t be such a semantic mistake as you have made when you used ‘confidence’ in lieu of ‘confident’ on the third paragraph

    • Glad you like that idea. And thanks for pointing my mistake out! Made the correction.

  • Saying ‘”Thank you for waiting for me ” instead of “Sorry Iam late ” neutralizes the feeling of guilt from both parties. This is indeed a virtue to keep. Thank you Dean Yeong!

    • It’s my pleasure to share. Glad you find it useful!

  • Chintan Gandhi

    A very nice article. If I want To read further and know more of such hacks. where can I read them ?

    • Hi, thanks for your kind words. I stumbled across some of these hacks on Quora. You definitely need to check it out.