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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

From an ODE Magazine article

Are you using diminishing language in your speech and writing?
The law of diminishing returns is defined as: "A point beyond which the application of additional sources yield less than proportional increases in output." In the same way if we use diminishing language in our speech the effect and power of speech 'yield less than proportional increases' in the effect we are trying to achieve.
What is diminishing language?
Diminishing language is usage of words such as: kind of, but, sort of, just, might, would, could, maybe, probably etc. in your speech and writing. Do you find yourself using plenty of these diminishing words in your speech and writing? The answer is often yes, because most of us are guilty of using these words when we are trying to make a point. The reason being habit, and also a lack of awareness regarding the usage. We often don’t realize that these words are taking away the effect and power from what we are trying to put forward.
Language is the medium of interaction between human beings and has evolved since many centuries down the line. Early man used signs and symbols and the gradually increasing civilization saw speech and writing come into being. To make a point or to put across an idea we use many terms to stress upon what we are trying to say however involuntarily we use words that unwittingly diminish the power of our speech and writing.

Ever tried blowing into a balloon with all your might, not knowing that there is a tiny tear at the bottom that wont let the air sustain long enough and is actually deflating the balloon despite your repeated attempts at filling it with air? The use of diminishing language is like that attempt to blow up a balloon with a tiny tear. It will never get filled with air, never float in the air. In the same way your sentences would never create the impact and effect if you use the diminishing words. Here is an example:
The interviewer: "Are you an expert in your field?’"
The interviewee: "Yeah, I sort of trained for a year and then joined my father’s business."
The interviewer: "Would you be able to handle the client’s demands autonomously?"
The interviewer: "Probably, if I work in this organization, I might be able to do so."
It wouldn’t take a genius to guess the result of the interview. The candidate was shown the door with polite thanks.
It gives a lot of personal power to use the kind of language that is full of strong words such as "I will," "yes I can" and "I am going to do it." In this fast paced world very few people would stop to listen to your pondering words. It will be more beneficial to you and the organization if you sit back in your reclining chair and nurse a cup of hot tea in your hands, if you think "You might be able to do some work."

How does it feel when you ask someone if they could do some work for you and they say "Sure, I will."
It surely sound sweeter and more affirming and reassuring than "I would let you know." It helps to use "I will" even when one is saying, "No. Sorry, I will not be able to do it." Of course with a gentle smile. The person will have more faith in you than someone who says "I am kind of busy these days and might not be able to help you."
One of the most common mistakes when using words that weaken the power of speech is this: misunderstanding that the usage of these words, "sort of," "kind of," add to the fluency of language. When we are trying to make a point and are thinking at the me time while we ponder over the next sentence then instead of allowing reasonable gaps, we rush to fill it with "you know," "kind of," "probably…"
English dictionary defines the word diminishing as:
to make smaller or less or to cause to appear so.
to detract from the authority, reputation, or prestige of.
The point we are trying to make is signified largely in these definitions. The diminishing language detracts from the authority of the speech and cause to appear less effective.
When we talk about great orators and writers with admiration it is because they have the power to impress and announce their words with authority and command. A powerful speaker will never use ‘sort of’ ‘kind of’ in their speech. They will command respect and attention only because their speech is full of power and devoid of diminishing words. Imagine a speaker on the public dais saying "It’s kind of nice to see you all here." Most of us would immediately think "He/she is nervous."
Remember to use to words for power. I have learned that there are three words that really steal away the power of performance from our personal dictionary. These words are: could, should, would. People use these words when there is no ‘intent’ and ‘commitment’ in their sayings and want to slither away from a situation. I have noticed that usage of "I will" creates a magic that begins an inner shift in our own consciousness. By using "can," ‘"will" and "do" in vocabulary more often we send out a clear message to our subconscious that we mean business. Thus, an inner reallocation like this brings about an outer change in the attitude and automatically the words that we begin to use are more powerful and full of affirmations.

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