Networking: Don’t be Had

Every few months, a speaking fad happens. Remember when everything great (and even not so great) was labeled as “amazing”? This overlapped with the trend of “truly” as an augmenter, “truly amazing,” “truly inspired…” Chances are, there is always some phrase that’s being overused but the truth of it is, speaking in fads betrays a sense of self.

At no time in our communication history is this worse than now. The word “had” is making its way into everyone’s speech at various levels. And 90% of the time it’s used, it is being used incorrectly. English grammar lesson 103: Had connotes the past perfect. It is used for an action that continued for a while before being interrupted by some other action or thing. Correct: I had been living in Argentina for two years before Kirchner took office. Incorrect: He had called me. I had emailed you. You had left me a message. She had…NO NO NO!!! You can’t “had called” or “had emailed” or “had” any one action for that matter. It’s worse than “ain’t.”

What’s the most ironic (and disturbing) about this is where it stems from. People often add words to their speech because they think it makes them sound smarter. Or that it makes them sound loftier or more proper. But this affectation is ridiculous. Remember Shakespeare? Brevity is the soul of wit.

Those who want to be effective communicators would do well to understand word economy (i.e. a smarter person can say in three words what another needs five to say). In our fast-paced, hyper-connected worlds, cutting to the chase is an asset. More than that, your associates want to know you have the intelligence to think for yourself (and know the difference between right and wrong).

Remember: Communication is a means for displaying an individual sense of character. Those who crutch their way through a conversation on catchwords weaken their uniqueness and convey nothing more than the inability to think for themselves.

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