Words matter. I’ve written about phrases that make a difference to me, such as I’m sorry and you’re welcome. Imagine how my fancy was tickled when I stumbled across someone else’s interpretation of another meaningful phrase: well-deserved.

In a post earlier this week, Seth Godin, one of my favorite marketing gurus, wrote:

“Well deserved” This is one of the nicest things you can say to someone who just got good news.

I love it.

Seth is right. Congratulations doesn’t distinguish luck from intent, happy accidents from hard work. On the other hand, well deserved (or well done or nice work) says to the recipient, “You’ve earned this, and I recognize that.”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with telling someone congratulations, nothing at all. If someone says it to me, I’ll take it with a thanks and a grin, and I’ll add it to my mental celebration compartment. I know I won’t stop saying it to others.

When I really want to note an accomplishment, though, from now on I’m going to reach for well deserved. There’s just so much more meaning packed into those deliberately chosen words. At least I think so.

Here’s the question: do you think anyone will notice? Or am I being too esoteric?

Comments, please.

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