27 June 2014

Like-Me Words

Welcome back. It’s time for you to get serious about the words you use if you want people to like you. Don’t worry; I’ll help. I’ll tap into my own lessons learned, but I’ll draw mostly from articles that appeared online in two well-respected magazines: Wired, which provided insight into the perfect online dating profile, and Inc., which suggested words and phrases tied mostly to work.

Dating Descriptions

I know. You’re wondering why I’m looking at an article on dating profiles. It was purely research. You, however, might be thinking of advertising, though it’s more likely that you’re just taking advantage of a conversation.

Magnetic words. (from photo on

In either event, analysis of data from two major online dating sites came up with 25 tips to magnetize your target audience with your written profile and photograph. For the profile, the analysis examined the most popular 1000 words for male and female, straight or gay.

There were, of course, giant differences between male and female word preferences, and these should be studied carefully before setting forth. It seems, however, that being physically fit and mentioning your sports is big for both. You can get by with running or hiking or the usual stuff, but you’ll shine if you list surfing, yoga or skiing. Not to worry, meditation did ok, too. Travel stood out, or at least London and ocean did, though the latter might have been more about sunsets.

Females rose in rank if they named the correct TV show, movie and music group; mentioning they were models aided their cause. Men gained acceptance by simply listing live music or slipping in innocuous words like mornings, breakfast and chocolate. They did win extra points if they could claim blue eyes.

I was encouraged that men did well by mentioning retirement, even if workaholic also scored well. And to my son and others I’ve corrected over the years, note that men who used whom, presumably correctly, got 31% more contacts from females.

Work Environment

In recent months, Inc. had two articles on words and phrases that will make people like you and a third article that also qualified, though it was aimed more at engendering positive feelings. Like dating profile words, these too are worthy of adoption or at least consideration.

I should point out that some suggested words are standard speech for members of my generation. We normally say please and thank you and, when appropriate, use sir and ma’am, and we would never ever say no problem instead of you’re welcome (see: Linguistic Longings). 

I was impressed with the emphasis on offering assistance: How can I help? or Here’s what’s happening or I’ll find out or the like. And two phrases I thought were quite important were Forgive me, I’ve forgotten your name and I’m happy to see you, as long as you smile and mean it.

Probably the only suggested words I had a problem with, though I valued the intent, related to judging someone’s work or being on a team. It would be fine to say I believe in you to a family member or in your prayers, but I think You can do it! works better. I’m not sure to whom you can say I’m disappointed in you other than to a pet, though I can’t find fault with You really impress me.

Wrap Up

Although it's not mentioned, one word I found overused in government circles was “my,” when applied to people--my staff, my team--especially if “our” could substitute--our staff, our team. Yes, “my” is appropriate in certain instances and may be needed for clarity; and if followed by the correct word, it’s perfect. I’ll never forget the feeling of pride I had when a professor who hired me and paid my salary introduced me as “my colleague” when he could have said “my research associate.”

Thanks for stopping by.


Article on Wired website and Time article that led me to it:
Articles on Inc. website and Time article that led me to them:

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