I recently read an article on the Forbes website by Brennan Barnard. It dealt with terms that he believes we need to abandon when talking to teens about college. I have used and continue to use all but one of the terms he mentions when talking to parents, students or anyone else who will listen to my ideas about preparing for and thriving in college. The quote comes to mind, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. It’s not so much the words that are used as it is the information one is attempting to convey. This is why there are constant wars of words raging across all platforms of social media. A smart quip that could cut to the bone when accompanied by a wry smile can be disarming and even funny. When tone of voice, a telling gesture or the facial expression is absent, that smart quip becomes a shot across the bow and the war is on.
The words on Mr. Barnard’s list hold no special place in my heart. They are just as likely to roll off my tongue when talking to students as not. Much of what I say depends on the relationship I have established while working with the student. The words I use to communicate important points and make the conversation meaningful will vary by individual. Some students come to me afraid, confused and shy about speaking their mind. Others require all the skill and finesse I acquired over the 10 years I spent in college. My word choices for two such different individuals will vary by a wide margin.
Even if it becomes a generally accepted truth that words like process, fit, well-rounded, passion, diversity and under-matched (never used this word in my life) should be discarded; they will continue to be held in my vocabulary reserve. Each of them will be pulled out, dusted off and planted squarely into the ears of my clients if it is deemed the best way to achieve understanding.
We have so many words in the English language that none of us will ever use them all in a lifetime. When selecting the words you use, just remember to be kind and choose wisely.