May 31, 2015

Tips to Improve Vocabulary

Can’t find the word? Use the same words over and over? Worried your vocabulary sounds too simplistic? 

Let’s take a look at a few simple ways you can improve your vocabulary. 

Lost the Word? 
Well first, take a breath. It’s ok to breathe! And, if you feel more pressure because you are speaking to US clients or so-called native English speakers, don’t worry they lose their words, too! Just listen, really listen to them carefully in your future calls. 

Eventually, probably sooner than you think, they will also get stumped. How do they handle it? Keep it in mind for when it happens to you. In the meantime, take a few more hints below to help you through the hump. 

Slow Down 
Getting over the hump can be as easy as slowing down. I can’t stress this enough. In India, there is a thought among some that speaking fast in the native language shows expertise or fluency, so this behavior is transferred unknowingly to English. To explain the danger of this, let me turn it around… so you are on the call with your native speaking English client from the US, Canada, Australia or the US, and they start speaking a mile a minute (idiom, meaning really fast). How do you respond? 

Well, many of you probably will not be able to follow. So, just think if now you are the one talking really fast. They will not be able to understand you too. I guarantee it. And, yes, of course your clients can benefit from the same tips, but right now we are working on your communication clarity. So, to be clear, when we speak fast, then have to stop to find a word, that gap appears much longer than if we talk at a slower pace, but not robotically slow, and then stop to search for the word. Learn how to modulate the speed of your voice, and this will become painstakingly clear. So, what happens if you lose the word? 

What is another word like….. ?
Here, we are talking about synonyms or definitions. If we talk about synonyms, do not learn complex, long words. Firstly, it will take you a long time to learn it, and without a sufficient practice ground, these words will surely be confusing for you to use and the listener to comprehend. It is better is to select some simple words. 

For instance, instead of saying “happy,” select a simple synonym that talks to your type of emotion – elated, pleased, overjoyed, or content, for example. If you can’t get a synonym, use a definition. For example, instead of happy, say, “that makes me feel real good,” “sounds good, I’m on-board,” or, “that is great, let’s do it!”

More synoyms: Informed  |   Great  |  Horrible   

By the way, are you able to pick out of this blog how many different ways I have said "lose your words"? If so, you know how the power of simple synonyms!

Ask for Help
If you really get stuck, ask for help from you colleagues. This can be daunting, but I have seen this being really effective for teams. But, the thing here is the entire team has to pay attention to who is talking. That means, if you aren’t talking, you are listening to help your team member out! 

Let’s say you get stuck on a word describing your project, and you can’t get the word, you could say:
“Actually, Ram was helping me with this part of the code… what was that Ram…?”
“What’s the name of that new feature we are adding to the line-up, Sanjay?” 

Keep a List
Awareness is key. Are there particular words that you keep using over and over? Try to keep a list of those words. Whether they are used frequently in emails or in conversation, keep a list, and outside of working hours work on finding synonyms or definitions for those words. If it is a word that is hard to pronounce, use a different word with a similar meaning. Don’t try to go for complex sounding words, simple words are more effective. 

Awareness
Throughout this article, I note awareness is key. Actually, awareness is important when listening and paying attention to the others on the call, especially your foreign clients. What words or phrases do they use? Try to learn some of those words and phrases and interweave them into your talking style. This is called mirroring. When we mirror others, they tend to like us more and build a more effective rapport with us. Just try it. I have seen other clients try it out with stellar results. 

Wrap it Up 
As it is important to summarize your meetings or calls with a crisp accuracy, I will say here the main lessons are awareness and keeping it simple. Actually, for most of you reading this, you have a good grasp of English. You can make conversations. Now, the key is to slow down, take a breath, and use your English skills to further your career. If you need help putting these tips into action, we provide one to one individualized coaching.

Related Posts:
Native Speakers are not perfect, you know?  
Robot, no more! 
Saying Thank You in business emails 


Photo attribution: By LepoRello (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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