How and why to expand your vocabulary

Your power to convince and inspire is as boundless as the words you use. Why settle for bland bromides when you can electrify your audience with stirring phraseology?

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“You talk to your kids like that?” asked a friend who overheard a conversation I was having with my then 5-year-old son.

I wasn’t bad-mouthing him or saying anything critical. I spoke to him as I would speak to anyone—using the words I would normally use. My friend was baffled, because I didn’t simplify my vocabulary to “speak at his level.”

That’s when I realized that I really had become my parents. Though I felt differently then, today I have a fond appreciation for my parents’ commitment to expand my vocabulary, even when that meant spending summers looking up 10 new words a week and assiduously using them until the next batch of words came up the following week. But I digress …

A vivid vocabulary makes you stand out.

Rather than come across as banal or humdrum, you’re interesting and thought-provoking. People’s ears perk up. They lean in. Curiosity unexpectedly takes over and they want to know more. You’re like hot coffee getting thrown in the face—in a good way (if that’s possible).

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