Tag Archives: language

Word for the Wise

I would like to speak in favor of precision in our language. Let’s put in the effort to say what we actually mean, to be intelligent in our use of language. Two examples:

  • It was literally raining cats and dogs. No it wasn’t. It was figuratively raining cats and dogs. In fact, your statement is the exact opposite of what you actually meant. I see this too much. Literally is used to mean absolutely not literally.
  • I don’t mean to interrupt. Yes you do. Unless you say that and then stop talking, you completely meant to interrupt. “I’m sorry for interrupting.” Fine. You are admitting to your action and intent. Wonderful. But don’t say the opposite of what you mean.

I don’t generally care for conversations about pet peeves. They always sound a bit whiny to me. So I hope you’ll forgive me this.

I just find myself disappointed lately with our language being used not just poorly, but in ways that mean the exact opposite of what is being said. We can do better.


Let’s Get Physical

My friend Mike recently attended a four day Tony Robbins seminar and said it was an amazing experience that everyone should have. One of his takeaways from the event (besides the exhilaration of walking on burning coals) was the three components of maintaining personal energy – physical, focus, and language.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly or has read my book, Be the Hero, knows that I talk a lot about focus and language. Just in my last few posts I’ve written about focusing on the present and attitude and using the language of being unbelievably lucky.

But I have to go back to August 6 to find my last post on physicality. I don’t think I am alone in too often taking the physical side for granted. Mike told me that for the entire four day seminar they never went more than 45 minutes without doing something physical – standing up, moving around, etc.

Thank you for the reminder. Now it’s time for me to go for a walk.

Doing Language

After writing about aloha I received an email from Dan Hatch, a very nice guy I met in Honolulu. He wrote:

“Alo”means face to face. “Ha” is breath. So when native Hawaiians greet one another they¬†do “aloha” by being forehead to forehead and exchangeing their breath, usually through the nose, rather than saying “aloha”.

In the same way the shaka sign (pinky and thumb extended, middle three fingers curled back) is a doing jesture, rather than a verbal one. I like the idea of doing language, which is more about being, than saying language, which is limited by words.

Good stuff. Doing language is important and includes everything from our body language to our actions. It can make a powerful statement, and can sometimes betray our verbal language.

What has spoken louder of late, Toyota’s verbal language or its doing language? Politicians of course are notorious for conflicting verbal and doing language.

We all fall prey to this conflict. With arms folded and brows creased we claim not to be angry. We anxiously yell for our children to calm down. Of course, our words are easily forgotten, but what we do will live on in others’ memories.


I’m in Hawaii for a speech at a charity event and everywhere I go people are saying aloha. This is a word that means more than just hello. It conveys peace, compassion, and friendliness.

I recently said, “Hi. How ya doing?” to a toll booth operator. He responded with a big grin and what I perceived to be a completely sincere, “Sensational!” It offered an incredibly unexpected burst of positive energy. Clearly it wasn’t the first time he had given that response.

One of my heroes is Marshall Goldsmith. I saw him speak in 2003 and he explained that he signs off every speech, every email, and every correspondence with, “Life is good.”

Tomorrow I’m going to write about the importance of the common phrases in your lexicon, but today I’m curious just to know what they are. I invite you to respond to this post and tell me. If you can’t think of any – no worries. Incidentally, “no worries” is one of my common phrases. What’s yours?