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Who, What, Where, When, How And Sometimes Why

Written by: Richard Hilton, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


We all use language every day without really thinking about the words that we use and sometimes the consequences without thinking about what the words will do in a particular situation. There are words called nominalisation (nominalisation is a nominalisation!), these words can “stop” the flow of ideas, and how a conversation is going, and more clarity may be needed. These words are such things as communication, relationship, progression and a vast number of other words. They tend to have a suffix such as ‒ ment requirement, ‒ ion justification, and ‒ ance disturbance.

An example of this is from Helen Sword’s article “Zombie Nouns”: The proliferation of nominalisations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency toward pomposity and abstraction.

Compare the paragraph to this from the same article by Helen: Writers who overload their sentences with nominalisations tend to sound pompous and abstract. Which is easier to read and which flows better?

What can be done when coming across nominalisations in your everyday environment? You can ask better questions to extract the meaning from what is being said.

For example, in a business setting, it may be stated that the company wants to have better communication.

Questions that could be asked are:

“Who would you like to communicate better to precisely?”

“How exactly would you know when we are communicating better?”

In a more personal way, someone may say, “Our relationship needs to be worked on”.

A question that could be asked is:

“How can we relate to one another better?”

“How would you know when we are relating better?”

You may have a family member or a work colleague that “wants to be respected”

Questions to ask that person could be:

“How do you know we aren’t being respectful?”

“What does respect look, sound, and feel like for you?”

Asking “why” is a good question; the only problem with asking “Why” is that it can go around in a circular pattern and not get you the results that you want. Ask any parent with young children!

Before asking “why,” ask one of “who, what, where, how and when.” You may end up with a more precise answer to your questioning; just be mindful that people can get annoyed with being asked precise questions as it can come across as them being interrogated.

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Richard Hilton, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Richard is former member of the British Army, upon leaving the military he has studied extensively in self-defence, Conflict Management. Due to going through a difficult period on leaving he realised that he needed to make major changes in the direction of his life He then began to study NLP and Hypnosis. He is now helping veterans and first responders with the difficulties and challenges that they are facing on a daily basis. He has also self-published his first book "Whispers over Windermere"



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