We can do better.
In the post-liberal arts/humanities educational landscape it seems we can expect less and less diversity in our expressions of energy and enthusiasm. I was paying attention this week as speaker after speaker expressed their “excitement” at the “awesomeness” that was unfolding around them.
I don’t doubt their sincerity one bit. And, let me not be the pot calling the kettle black. I am as guilty as anyone I know. I’d just like to do better.
This isn’t about being a nitpicky language snob or a few discreet word choices in the moment just to mix it up. This is about conveying emotion, inviting others to share in our deeply held feelings about the significance of the moment. Words matter. And when we keep going back to the same old ones – especially when they are beyond overuse and no longer sufficient to capture our intentions – we lose the ability to have the impact we would like to have.
The good news? Help is just a keystroke away. Look what I found on the Google machine:
Synonyms for “awesome” – adj amazing: alarming, astonishing, awe-inspiring, awful, beautiful, breathtaking, dreadful, fearsome, formidable, frightening, horrible, horrifying, imposing, impressive, intimidating, magnificent, overwhelming, shocking, stunning, terrible, terrifying, wonderful, wondrous
Synonyms for “excited” – adj inspired; upset: agitated, annoyed, delighted, disturbed, eager, hysterical, nervous, passionate, thrilled, animated, aroused, awakened, charged, discomposed, disconcerted, inflamed, moved, piqued, provoked, roused, ruffled, stimulated, stirred, wired, aflame, beside oneself, feverish, fired up, frantic, high, hot, hot and bothered, hyperactive, in a tizzy, juiced up, jumpy, keyed up, on edge, on fire, overwrought, steamed up, tumultuous, wild, worked up, zipped up
While I’m not suggesting you start working phrases like “This is formidable! I’m so hot and bothered!” into your presentations, wouldn’t it be a refreshing change to stand up and say: “This is breathtaking…I’m thrilled to be with you today.” Or, “What an astonishing opportunity we have here…I’m feeling awake with possibility just being with all of you.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m always looking for something more oh, I don’t know….magnificent.
Yeah, I like the sound of that.
DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.