I’m a big fan of conversational gimmicks. Tricks of the tongue. Catchphrases!
My last name is hard to pronounce. For most people, especially non-Italians, it isn’t pronounced anything like it appears in print. It actually rhymes most closely with the way people say “gotcha!” For a long time, when introducing myself to someone new, I’d have to go through this whole dance of saying my last name multiple times while the other person repeated it, mispronouncing it differently each time, until finally when they got it they would smirk like I was hearing this for the first time and go, “Ahhhh, ‘gotcha,’ Roccia!”
Nyuk nyuk nyuk.
But after a while I realized… hey, that’s pretty good. It’s catchy, it’s memorable, and it does what I want it to do – teaches people how to actually pronounce my name. So I started using it myself. When I introduce myself now, my gimmick is to say “Hi there, I’m Johnny Roccia, rhymes with ‘gotcha‘!” And I do a little finger-gun thing because it’s cheesy but cheesy is also pretty on-brand for me.
Big win. I don’t have to hear other people spitting that back at me, and I make my name easier, and I make the introduction more memorable. All positive stuff!
But in addition to making things easy and memorable, there’s a benefit to a certain level of consistency in your words – especially written ones. You don’t want to become so predictable that you’re boring, of course. But you do want to be a little predictable because then you’re also referenceable. Don’t wear out your thesaurus looking for a new word each time. It’s fine to coin words and phrases because then it’s easy to both create shared communication tools and create shorthand for big concepts. If you write a lot (like I do!), you can’t possibly hold everything you’ve written in your own active memory. It’s nice to be able to search, and searching for past work on a topic is much easier if you’re pretty consistent overall in the terms you use for things.
And that little bit of consistency, that dash of predictability, makes you easier to interact with. It lowers the barrier for other people to get to know you, absorb your ideas. You don’t win extra points for fancy words and creativity if it makes it harder to understand what you’re talking about!
Until tomorrow, everyone – this is Johnny Roccia, rhymes with ‘gotcha!’