When we begin to tell others what makes us different, what sets us apart from our competitors, it is often tempting to try to use impressive “big” words. My good friend, and fellow presenter/trainer, Alecia Huck, calls these “Charlie Brown Words.” These are the overly-inflated, attempting-to-sound-important descriptors that remind us of the sounds the adults made when Charlie Brown sits in the classroom (“wah wah… wah wah…”)
Do you find yourself using any of these words on your resume, business card or website? Are they typical and consistent with your overall language and tone of speech, or are you attempting to sound more important/significant/impressive?
Some examples of potential Charlie Brown Words and what you might use instead:
Instead of Try
Passionate about Enjoy working with…
Articulate Able to communicate ideas effectively
Effective, Results-oriented Focused on meeting goals and expectations
Team-player Experience managing many levels of staff…
Leader/Leadership Able to motivate teams and individuals to …
Diligent, dedicated, committed Always give 100% of myself
Visionary Able to see the big picture of a concept/project
Starting to get the idea? By trying to sound impressive and concise, you might actually miss the message behind the word.
Also, consider whether you are stating the obvious in your attempt to capture the attention of your target audience. For instance, if you lead with the fact you are “trustworthy, dedicated and hard working,” ask yourself if that is a given for professionals in your field. I would assume my accountant and doctor are those things. They don’t set you apart unless you demonstrate those qualities in an unusual way.
What are some Charlie Brown Words you run into? What do you substitute those words with?
Elizabeth Suarez says
Interesting how your line of work crosses with mine. When I read your Charlie Brown words, I had to smile. I have heard those exact words used in any mediation session. Other words I have heard are “giving my all”, “always working towards the good of the company”, “open to ideas and suggestions”. When I hear these words I ask the question; “Can you describe how always working towards the good of the company might be seen by others?” Unfortunately, people have difficulties putting into words a description that would make sense to anybody.
As always, a great post!
Deb Krier says
I always laugh when people get caught up in using buzz words. Often it’s easier than really thinking about what they want to say or how they feel. I’ll definitely have to make sure I don’t fall into that trap! 😉
Lida Citroen says
We all do it, Deb. Just a matter of becoming more aware of the words we choose 🙂