Submitted by ub on Thu, 06/25/2015 - 08:56


Almost: This is a seemingly innocuous word that we use all the time: "I'm almost finished." "I'm almost there." "I almost submitted my application to my dream company."

I didn't realize this word was a problem, until a speaker I was listening to pointed out that "almost" implies not going all the way. And it's true. Whenever I say I "almost" did something — the truth is I didn't. I didn't finish, I didn't arrive, I didn't submit my application to my dream company.

So the next time you're about to tell your boss that you've almost completed the project, don't. Instead, share the progress you've made, give a time estimate for the parts still underway, and show that you can get the work done.

Might: We get it: Making decisions, whether they're career-related, finance-related, or people-related, is tough. But that doesn't give us an excuse to go around saying we "might" do this and "might" do that — only to change our minds a few hours later. As human as it is to oscillate between options, our credibility decreases when our indecision affects our colleagues. After all, why should others feel confident in our choices if the words coming out of our mouths are filled with uncertainty?

If you'd like to become more assertive (without becoming a jerk, of course), replace "might" and "might not" with "will" and "won't." The higher level of commitment in these latter words will, at the very least, make you appear like a reliable decision-maker.

Someday: The problem with "someday" is similar to "almost" — it reveals a lack of urgency. We're "someday" going to start that side project, "someday" going to learn to code, "someday" going to find a better job. But right now, we're too busy.

I probably don't have to tell you that delaying our dreams with this word isn't good. It's also not great to respond to your supervisor's assignments and co-worker's requests with "someday." If you're truly swamped with work and can't add a new project onto your plate, it's better to say no (or ask to shift around other priorities), rather than to agree to and self-impose a nonexistent deadline.

Try: Yes, we're always encouraged to keep trying when it comes to reaching our goals. But at some point you have to stop trying, and just start doing. Otherwise your co-workers will lose faith in your abilities.

Besides, expressing that we'll "try" something implies that we're not willing to assume full responsibility. Think about it: Would you rather let someone who wants to try to fix the problem take charge, or someone who wants to fix the problem? The latter, we're sure.

So, when it comes to discussing unfinished projects with your team, don't talk about what you tried to do — but what you actually did. And, if you must present the end goal or what you're "trying" to achieve, highlight the tangible action steps so that you're not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

Wish: The most important thing in life is to stop saying 'I wish' and start saying 'I will.' Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities," writes Charles Dickens in David Copperfield.

Compared to "will," "wish" is passive and paints the image of a daydreamer waiting and waiting. Just consider the phrases "I wish I was a programmer" and "I will become a programmer," for instance. The latter sounds much more likely to take action. The former also sounds like you're talking to a genie.