Do the buzzwords “drop two sizes” or “bikini body” on a cover make you steer clear of a magazine? That’s what Women’s Health readers told the publication in a recent poll. As a result, the magazine will no longer use those words on its covers. Instead, look for readers’ apparent favorite words: Toned. Strong. Sexy.
I’m glad to see “bikini body” go, but in 2016, we need to go even further. Here are four other phrases on my personal “stop using” list:
- Gun control. Let’s use “gun safety” instead. We can argue until we’re blue in the face about whether or not we should (or even can) control someone else’s ownership or use of a gun. The politics of the issue, the power of the gun lobby, and the second amendment all mean that we are unlikely to be able to make significant progress on gun control. On the other hand, no reasonable person can object to steps to increase the safety of guns. Gallup reports that 43% of Americans have a gun in their house or on their property; 86% favor universal background checks. That’s safety, not control.
- My vote doesn’t make a difference. In fewer than 100 years, women have gone from fighting for the right to vote to being the deciding factor in many elections. Women are now the majority of voters and in many elections we determine the outcome. In fact, Black women are the demographic group most likely to vote. It’s no accident that voter ID laws disproportionately impact women (and most especially women of color); two thirds of voters without ID’s are women. If you care about women’s health, gun safety, the climate, the economy, or your kids’ schools, you can’t afford not to vote.
- The problem is… Athletes learned long ago to visualize victory rather than focusing on error and weakness. The reason for this is simple: the more you talk about problems, the more you wallow in them. In fact, science shows that visualization can actually change the brains of stroke victims. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, think about the times when things have worked well and ask yourself, “How can we make success happen more often?” In the workplace, rather than focusing on “problems” like lack of teamwork, try opening up a conversation about when you worked really well together and how to make that happen again. It can work on a personal level too — which bring us to …
- Should. Should is one of the most used words in the English language. We use it with our friends, family, and neighbors. We use it to try and motivate ourselves. The problem is that it leaves the listener feeling like they are not good enough the way they are. It suggests to another person that we don’t trust them to make their own decisions. And, even if we don’t say it, the follow-up to “I/you should” is “but I/you don’t” — reinforcing the negative. Think about replacing your personal “shoulds” with why you really want to do something. Instead of saying, “I should go to the gym,” try, “I feel so much better when I go to the gym.” Maybe you can reframe the “shoulds” you have for other people to suggestions like, “Have you thought about…” or, “You might consider…”
What words or phrases are on your must-ban list for 2016?