I don’t profess to have a great vocabulary, but I do try to increase my vocabulary every day. Seth Godin puts this idea in a more eloquent way than me:
If you are only able to use 1,000 words, nuance goes out the window.
The typical native speaker knows 20,000 words, and there’s your opportunity:
If you know 40,000 words, if you learn five words a day for a decade, the world changes. Your ability to see, to explain and to influence flies off the charts.
It’s not about knowing needlessly fancy words (but it’s often hard to know if the fancy word is needless until after you learn it). Your vocabulary reflects the way you think (and vice versa). It’s tempting to read and write at the eighth-grade level, but there’s a lot more leverage when you are able to use the right word in the right moment.
A fork in the road for most careers is what we choose to do when we confront a vocabulary (from finance, technology, psychology, literature…) that we don’t understand. We can either demand that people dumb down their discourse (and fall behind) or we can learn the words.
Here are three simple ways to increase your vocabulary:
1. Join word of the day by clicking here.
2. Download Million Dollar Words here.
3. Buy this book: 1100 Words You Need to Know.
Rule #11 from my book The Fantastic Life: The Growth Paradigm
Increasing your vocabulary is one small way you can take control of your growth. With each new word, you expand your world view and your ability to express yourself, and direct your growth where you want to go.