When advising Freelancers and other self-employed business professionals on how to increase their customer list and sales revenues, the usual recommendations are repeatedly trotted out: Exceed expectations. Network. Get referrals. Price well.
Yet there is another way to continually, subtly, position yourself and your business enterprise as dependable and competent and that is to be well-spoken. Whether you are in conversation with friends and colleagues, clients and referral sources, a good vocabulary is always noticed by the listener on some level. Well-spoken people get more respect in life. They are listened to and trusted. Expand your vocabulary and your client list may follow.
How can you add more words to your long-term memory? Read! Read for business and read for pleasure. Read new books and explore old classics. When you encounter an unfamiliar word, look it up and claim it as your own. Eventually, you’ll sprinkle those words into your written and verbal communications, without sounding like a show-off. Below is a list of words that you might want to get to know and use in your life and work.
Definition: being highly skilled or well-trained in a particular discipline; an expert Synonyms: capable, accomplished
Example: Grace is very adept at financial analysis and as a result, she was recruited by several regional and national banks.
Definition: self-confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation Synonyms: composure, poise
Example: Michael chaired what could have been a difficult meeting with a potentially hostile audience with aplomb.
Definition: devious and surreptitious operation Synonyms: complicated, troublesome
Example: Robert’s high personal ethics made it difficult for him to work for a company with such a Byzantine culture, so he tendered his resignation.
Definition: well-reasoned, logical and compelling Synonyms: convincing, valid
Example: Yvonne and her study co-authors made three cogent arguments in favor of the proposed changes to the zoning laws.
Definition: a difficult problem Synonyms: problem, puzzlement
Example: Edward was charged with solving the shipping conundrum before the company lost money.
Definition: the appointment of friends and associates to jobs or other desirable posts, often evidenced by awarding promotions that are not deserved because the candidates are unqualified Synonyms: favoritism, preference
Example: It has long been said that jobs within city and state governments are obtained primarily through cronyism.
Definition: to precisely describe or outline Synonyms: describe, outline
Example: To ensure that things ran smoothly, the team moved to the conference room to delineate their plan on the whiteboard before beginning the project.
Definition: to stray or depart (from a standard, course of action or the norm) Synonyms: differ, stray
Example: If you deviate from your customer’s expectations, they may buy from competitors who offer a more consistent experience.
Definition: a division into two parts, often contradictory or mutually exclusive Synonyms: contrast, split
Example: By attempting to work half an hour on the production line, the president only further illustrated the dichotomy that exists between executives and factory workers in our company.
Definition: to spread or disperse Synonyms: announce, broadcast
Example: A downside of being a celebrity these days is that the internet makes it easy and fast to disseminate rumors about their alleged misdeeds.
Definition: difficult to understand except by a chosen few; a rare and special interest Synonyms: unusual, sophisticated
Example: When speaking with prospective clients, it is recommended that you avoid using esoteric, industry-specific terms.
Definition: a total failure; a complicated situation that ends in failure Synonyms: calamity, disaster,
Example: My suit was wrinkled, my business cards got soaked in the rain and when I left, I found a huge piece of spinach in my teeth. The whole thing was a total fiasco!
Definition: to propel a person or people into activity or inspiration Synonyms: inspire, motivate
Example: Leila gave a rousing victory speech, galvanizing her campaign volunteers to stay active on social media long after the election was over.
Definition: penetrating, biting or remarkably clear (tone, words, etc.) Synonyms: clever, sharp
Example: Dan tried to counter the damaging points made by the defense attorney, but in the end, her points were too incisive and the jury sided with the defendant.
Definition: place two items close together and side by side (often referring to objects that may at first seem to be in opposition or contrast) Synonyms: compare, differentiate
Example: To illustrate her point about how far the company had come, Mariam juxtaposed the image of the company’s original product with the modern version.
Definition: to exert influence on to gain the desired effect (in business) Synonyms: advantage, influence
Example: A buyer can limit the leverage of the seller if that buyer doesn’t seem overly anxious to acquire the product.
Definition: a long list or reciting of excuses, reasons, etc. Synonyms: list, chant
Example: Jocelyn had a litany of excuses for her miscalculation — many were valid, some were not.
Definition: volatile or erratic; fickle; flighty, or lively and often quick-witted Synonyms: changeable, impulsive
Example: The lead singer’s mercurial nature was well-loved by fans and the media, but brought lots of stress to his band mates.
Definition: wise and sensible in action and thought Synonyms: careful, shrewd
Example: Cate felt that it would be prudent to use 30% of the revenue from the sale to pay the organization’s debt and to deposit 30% into the endowment fund.
Quid pro quo
Definition: something given for something taken (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours) Synonyms: trade-off, equal exchange
Example: Heidi and Larry had a quid pro quo arrangement — they swapped desks, so that she could sit near her friend and he could sit near the girl he has a crush on.
Definition: accepting even negative circumstances with a positive attitude Synonyms: unflappable, composed
Example: While it would make his job more difficult, Omar was sanguine when he was told he’d have to complete the project a week earlier than expected.
Definition: indefensible, usually in relation to a difficult or impossible situation Synonyms: illogical, unwarranted
Example: Naomi was in an untenable position; she couldn’t continue to tell her employees to cut costs while she stayed in five-star hotels when on business trips.
Definition: a young person who succeeds, usually in business Synonyms: genius, mastermind
Example: The late musician Prince was a wunderkind, a highly talented guitar player, song writer and recording producer who signed his first record contract at age eighteen, with Warner Brothers.
Definition: spirit of the times Synonyms: outlook, trend
Example: Ideas of world peace, happiness and rock’n’roll music defined the Zeitgeist of the 1960s in the U.S. and Western Europe.
Thanks for reading,
Photograph: Marie Curie, winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize in chemistry (for her work with radium and polonium). In 1903, she was one of three who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics. She is pictured in her laboratory, circa 1900.