Want to Sound more Confident? Avoid these 11 Words and Phrases that can make you look ‘Weak’

In such a competitive world, the last thing you need to do is undercut yourself. But that’s what a lot of us are doing when we communicate in ways that make us sound less confident, less determined, and less sure of ourselves. But there’s an effective solution: Swap out weak words and phrases for ones that will make you come across as more professional and capable.

Here’s what psychologists, linguists, recruiters, and CEOs say you should avoid using if you want to get ahead, along with simple replacements that will make a big difference in how you are perceived:

1. “Does that make sense?”

If you ask “Does that make any sense?” after you’ve finished sharing a thought, you’re immediately giving the impression that you’re not convinced yourself, that your idea might be incomplete.

What to say instead: “What are your thoughts?” or “I’d like your input on this.”

Rather than seeking validation or approval, you should be asking the listener or reader for their opinions on your idea.

2. “Maybe we should try …”

Up until the mid-19th century, “maybe” was written as two words — “may” and “be” — which makes it clear that it literally refers to something that might happen, but might not. That’s pretty wishy-washy when you apply it to your own ideas or suggestions. Either you believe in what you’re talking about, or you don’t. 

What to say instead: “Let’s try…” or “It’s a good idea to try…”

3. “I think this would …”

This is a minor distinction, but a valid one: “I think” sounds weaker than “I believe,” and is a little more doubtful as to if you’re saying something might work, but you’re not sure.

What to say instead: “I believe this would …”

“I believe” puts you in charge of the thought and conveys a calm surety. And even if you’re not so sure at all, no one needs to know that!

4. “I’m not positive, but …” or “I’m not sure, but …” 

You don’t need to add disclaimers. Similarly, if you start your sentence with “I know this might be a stupid question, but …” or “I don’t want to sound pushy, but …,” you’re undermining yourself. It’s an easy rule that bears repeating: Don’t put yourself down. Ever.

What to say instead: Whatever you were going to say after the “but”

5. “I just wanted to touch base …”

How many times have you started an email with “Just wanted to ask you if …”? The problem, in this case, is that the “just” is a softener — almost an apology, as if you’re saying, “I hate to bother you, but …” There’s a time and a place for that, but business communication generally isn’t.

What to say instead: “I wanted to touch base …”

6. “Needless to say …”

“Needless to say” comes from a long line of ironic phrases where you open a topic by saying you’re not going to say something, but then say it anyway. So why do it?

What to say instead: Nothing

7. “In my opinion …”

Cut to the chase and remove the unnecessary, weak intros. Whoever is listening to you or reading what you’ve written knows that it’s your opinion or your belief. That’s why you’re telling them whatever you’re telling them!

What to say instead: Nothing

8. “For what it’s worth …”

This is another intro that makes it sound as if you’re not convinced yourself about what you’re saying. And if you’re not convinced about your point, why should anyone else be?

What to say instead: Nothing

9. “Sorry”

It’s fine to apologize if you’ve done something wrong and need to own up to it, but too many people toss in a “sorry” and wind up weakening their image. Why say “Sorry to bother you,” when a simple “Excuse me” is shorter, snappier, and less self-deprecating?

Psychologists suggest that people tend to think those who overuse “I’m sorry” are ineffectual and lack confidence. If you need more convincing, keep in mind that from the 13th century on, the word “sorry” was used to mean “wretched” or “worthless.” Another similar one to avoid: “I hate to ask, but …” Just ask!

What to say instead: “Excuse me”

10. ”[X] was developed to increase [X].”

What to say instead: “I developed [X] to increase [X].”

“I developed [X] to increase [X]” sounds more confident because it uses the active voice instead of the passive voice. With the passive voice, the subject has something done to it; with the active, the subject is doing the action. So if you created a new marketing campaign to increase brand awareness, why not use the active voice and take credit for it upfront?

11. ”… if you know what I mean” 

We’ve seen so many people end sentences with “if you know what I mean,” or it’s truncated near-twin “know what I mean?” If you’re one of them, stop now. It’s a filler phrase that means nothing — and actually irritates a lot of people. Along the same lines, avoid starting sentences with puffy phrases like “It’s important to note that …” All you’re doing is adding useless words. Know what we mean?

What to say instead: Nothing

Article Credit: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/07/overused-words-and-phrases-that-make-you-sound-weak-less-confident-according-to-grammar-experts.html

Published by SULV Foundation

Build and Repeat is our Mission and Purpose, we strive to make the world a better place while creating inter-generational wealth.

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