Do you ever get so immersed in a conversation that you don’t realize the meaning of words? Do you have trouble remembering the correct nouns and verbs to use in a conversation? Do you feel that you don’t express yourself clearly because you don’t know the right words to use? You might be suffering from word salad, a condition that is becoming more and more common as the years go by.

Word salad often happens when you’re nervous, or under a lot of stress. If you’re not used to speaking in complete sentences, it can be hard to keep track of what you’re saying. You might even find it difficult to finish a sentence without using an entirely different word. For example, if you were to say ‘The dog is barking’, you would probably say ‘barking dog’. But if you’re not used to speaking clearly, it’s really hard to say ‘barking’ and ‘dog’ at the same time. This leads to an awkward silence or a conversation that makes no sense at all. Let’s take a look at how you can stop this embarrassing behavior.

Start With The Basics

The first thing you should do if you suspect that you are suffering from word salad is to go back and review the basics. Make sure that you have your wits about you and that what you’re saying makes sense. Take a step back. Stop. Think. Relax.

There are so many different phrases and words that we use every day that can cause word salad. If you’re not sure of the meaning of any of these words or phrases, look them up online or in a decent-sized dictionary. Don’t worry, this is a normal reaction. If you’re feeling confused or if your words don’t seem to match what you’re thinking, take a step back and reevaluate your situation. It might be that you’re not actually saying what you think you’re saying. This is called semantic ambiguity and it can happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re stressed out and you’re using slang words that you don’t normally use or it could be that there are multiple meanings for the words you’re using. Words have different meanings to different people. This is called polyphony and it can make for some very interesting conversations. But it can also lead to word salad. So, be careful what you say.

Take Your Time

If you’re someone who struggles with communication and you find that you say outlandish things because you don’t know the ‘right’ words to use, then it might be a good idea to take time to learn how to appropriately use language. It can be very frustrating to have conversations with people who don’t seem to have an easy time understanding you. Conversations should be easy and relaxed. This is not the case when you’re having conversations with people who don’t seem to get the same things you’re saying. So, if you know that this is an area of weakness for you, then take the time to learn. There are plenty of books out there that can help teach you the correct way to speak. You might also want to look into learning a new language. Learning a new language will not only allow you to have more nuanced conversations, but it can also help you discover a side of your personality that you didn’t know existed. You might even find that you enjoy speaking with someone who isn’t familiar with your native tongue. It can be fun to teach someone ‘bad words’ that you don’t normally use, or it can allow you to find the good ones that you were missing out on.

Understand The Context

The other thing that you need to do if you suspect that you are suffering from word salad is to try and understand the context of what you’re saying. What do you mean by this? Well, if you’re in a completely different country from the one you were in earlier, then the words might not have the same meaning. If you want to ask someone for the time, it would be best if you did so in German. But if you’re in Argentina and you want to ask someone how to get to California, you might find that ‘how do I get to California?’ doesn’t have the same meaning as it does in America. Sometimes words lose their meaning when used in certain situations. For example, if you say ‘I love you’ to someone you’ve just met, it probably won’t mean the same thing as if you said it to your best friend. Take a step back and try to understand the reason for the misunderstanding. It might be that one of you doesn’t mean what you said or it could be that one of you said the wrong thing at the wrong time. 

Check For Ambiguity

Ambiguity is when you don’t know the exact meaning of a word or phrase you’re using. This can lead to all kinds of problems. You might use a word that has two meanings, but since you don’t know what they are, you have no idea which one you’re supposed to use. This is called polysemy and it happens all the time when you don’t know the meaning of a word. If you’re not sure of the meaning of a word or phrase, look it up in your dictionary or online. But, be careful what you look up because your brain might just assume that you know what it means and give you the answer that you’re looking for. When this happens, it’s called answer bias and it’s one of the most dangerous aspects of ambiguity. You should always look up the words you don’t know in a dictionary or thesaurus, so you can get a better idea of what they mean. If you suspect that you are suffering from semantic ambiguity, take a step back and reexamine your situation. Is what you’re saying making sense? Does it seem like you know what you’re saying? Can you put into words what you mean? These are all questions that you should ask yourself before continuing with your current line of thinking. Don’t worry, this is not a sign of weakness. Many times, it’s just a matter of not knowing the correct words to use. So, take a little bit of time and look it up. You’ll be surprised at how many times this happens and how many different ways that words can be interpreted. This is what makes conversations so interesting. Without this element of ambiguity, conversations would become very tedious.