In my communication workshops, someone usually asks me how they can improve their vocabulary. Using the right word is important; learning new words is also important.
Having a good vocabulary gives you credibility and authority. Knowing what a word means and how to correctly pronounce it is the mark of a professional.
- Read. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your vocabulary.
- Listen to audio recordings and pay attention to how the writer used words to convey emotion and meaning.
- Get a good hardcopy dictionary and use it. Look up every word you do not recognize.
- Spend one hour a week browsing through the dictionary and set a goal to learn the meaning and proper pronunciation of at least 20 new words each week. Use them in your conversation the following week. Put the words, their meaning, and pronunciation on a 3x5-index card and carry the cards with you. Practice the words when you have pockets of time. If you aren't sure of the pronunciation, use a site such as www.www.howjsay.com to hear how the word is spoken.
- Each week, buy one newspaper from a different area of the United States. If you live on the West coast, buy a Florida paper. Try to identify how that newspaper uses words. Is it different from the newspaper you are used to? If so, what is different?
- Each month, read one well-written magazine you have never read before to expand your vocabulary in new areas.
- Do crossword puzzles and word games.
- Ask someone you trust to correct you when you misuse or mispronounce a word.
- Play Scrabble® with someone who has a better vocabulary than you.
- Use a thesaurus to learn words with similar and opposite meanings.
- Buy and use a book designed to help you improve your vocabulary.
Knowing your job is an important step in getting ahead at work, but being good at your job may not be enough. People must recognize you as a professional—someone who is technically proficient, who can communicate effectively, who interacts well with others, and who takes the time to develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. Showcase your abilities and develop new ones to enhance your reputation with Patricia's workshop Developing as a Professional.