Monday, March 10, 2014

People judge you by your diction

As you have noticed, many people in the professions talk and write like children. By doing so, they detract from their professional credibility, even when they apparently are trying to bolster it. Here’s a good example:

In an interview with Elle magazine, a professor of psychology argues that professional psychologists are better at giving advice than are the authors of self-help books. But she fails in her delivery, by using awkward, juvenile diction:

Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, who studies happiness at the University of California, Riverside, says, “We [psychologists] just sort of ignore that whole [self-help] section of the bookstore... We set it as so different from what we do, like, ‘Well, we do science, and those people are just spouting off their ideas.’ ” (Highlighting added.)

I do not know Professor Lyubomirsky. I haven’t read her books or papers. I’ve never heard her give a speech. For all I know, she may be the most brilliant and knowledgeable professor of psychology in the world. But that quotation makes her sound like a teenager.

The Takeaway: If you want to be respected as a professional, always talk and write like a professional. People judge you by your diction – even people who insist they would never do such a thing.

See disclaimer.

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