Category: Language

Manipulative Language: “Happy”

Like the word “need”, I’ve noticed a few uncomfortable terms being used in the world of customer service and the workplace. For a long time I’ve felt that people are effectively turning into machines or zombies, if for no other reason than they talk like they’re reading from a script. (I’d spent just over a week in telesales many years ago, and having to read from a script – and nothing but the script – was one of the most demeaning things I’ve ever done.)

One of these other terms is the word “happy“, often used as follows:

Are you happy to do that?

Are you happy for me to put you forward..?

Are you happy to pay the charges?

Continue reading Manipulative Language: “Happy”

Words I’ve Erased From My Vocabulary

[ originally posted Oct 31, 2009 @ 6:51, as “10 Words YOU MUST Erase from your Vocabulary” ]

Almost a year ago I received an email about article writing, which itself was presented an example of good article writing. (Most of these American “gurus” are known for blowing their own trumpets.)

As a result of this email, I was inspired to find out whether other people, as well as myself, had elected to remove certain words from their vocabulary. I came across one such article by a woman named Barbara Henry, who explains which ten words she’s “removed”.
Continue reading Words I’ve Erased From My Vocabulary

Manipulative Language: “Need”

When someone tells you they need something.
When someone tells you they need you to do something.
When someone tells you that you need to do something.
When someone tells you that something needs to be done.

Some of you reading this will probably say, “do you really need to talk about this?” I rather stupidly asked about it on Yahoo! Answers once, and got a very similar answer. To those people who want to ridicule me: shut the fuck up and listen.

Basically Wayne Dyer said in one of his audiobooks that a need is something that – if you don’t have it – will immobilise you. I really began to think about my own usage of the word, and realised that I was using it when its usage was completely unnecessary. Unfortunately, I also began to notice that a lot of people throw the word around these days.

I’ve certainly had times where I felt I really “needed” something, even if the “need” turned out to be something I didn’t actually “need” – but often that one thing being missing can stop other things from happening.

You’ve probably heard people talk about how some people feel they "need" a particular thing to be happy, to be rich, or to progress to the next level. Without this thing, they feel like they can’t change. It’s like when you have a craving for lamb chops, and you can eat as much of any other kind of food as you want, but you won’t be satisfied unless you have lamb chops.

There are times when the need is genuine, like air and water (in my opinion). I’d argue that having faith in something is also a need, even if it’s having faith in not having faith.

But my beef is with people who use the word “need” as a controlling force. Those people who throw the word “need” around are only interested in manipulating others, and their general grammar is often synonymous with forcing or getting people to do something.

I’ll let you figure out for yourself why the overuse of the word “need” is a bad thing, but know that there are many other, more relevant alternatives to the word “need”: required; must; would like; want; supposed to; mandatory; essential; and so on.
I challenge you to omit the word “need” from your vocabulary for 24 hours, using any or all of the alternatives – it’s very simple and you may even feel better after it.

Just remember that you have a right to define your own “needs” for yourself; don’t let anyone define them for you.