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Stepwise Success

You Are What You Say

Published March 21, 2012 6:08 AM by Scott Warner

You are what you say. You tell stories and express yourself using words, just like a book. What you say and how you say it lets people know if you’re a textbook, novel, autobiography, or gibberish. And yes, people judge you by your cover. It happens, and some people don’t mind.

Our speech is tempered by advertisers, television, and peers. We share a vernacular to be understood and accepted, and that’s a good thing. But if one doesn’t widely read or hang with English nerds, it’s too easy to backslide.

Thus, weird habits easily creep into everyday speech. Examples:

  • Pant.Pant” is something a dog does, but soon after “Pant Sale” appeared in stores selling trousers a coworker said, “I’m off to buy pant,” perhaps to match shoe.
  • Agreeance. “I am in agreeance” is said instead of “Yes.” While in the dictionary, I doubt that’s where most people find this one.
  • Waiting on line. As in, “I waited on line at the supermarket” instead of “in line.”
  • Me and him/her. I hear this confusion of subject and object all the time. “Me and him went to the ball game” is an example.

College graduates should know better, but it happens. Language is a living thing.

As a professional, you are also what you say. Coworkers and patients judge your ability by how you express yourself. Example: “Mononuclear cells with prominent nucleoli and an elevated nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio seen” vs. “Early-looking cells.” You may be thinking the same thing both times, but the person listening won’t know it.

Cursing, pseudo-cursing, poor grammar, and imprecise language may be understood -- it may even be eloquent -- but that’s beside the point. Saying, “Me and her looked at that Gram stain and don’t know what the heck it is” sounds awful. “We reviewed the Gram stain, which contains Gram-variable pleomorphic organisms” is better.

We should all strive to elevate speech to a neutral discussion focused on the patient. Speaking well takes the focus off you, doesn’t make the listener work for the information, and sounds professional. I am in agreeance.

NEXT: New Physicians

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About this Blog


    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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