Word nerd

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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6 thoughts on “Word nerd

  1. Mohz says:

    I would notice the difference. Congratulations is dismissive to me. People say it all the time without meaning it or without really connecting to it, similar to how we ask “How are you?” when we don’t really intend for someone to answer. Well deserved and you’ve earned it is an acknowledgement and really, when it comes right down to it, that’s what we’re all seeking.

  2. On occasion, I have told a friend with great news that she really deserves it but I never thought to use “well-deserved”. I love it. The phrase is almost quaint; time to bring it back.

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