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10 Phrases That Make You Sound Less Confident

Source | INC : By Lolly Daskal

Confidence is a key component of success, and part of building and maintaining confidence is looking for the little things that may be undermining it every day.

One place to look carefully is the language you use. Words have power–they send a message about who you are. Here are some words to watch out for.

If you find them in your writing (especially email, where we’re often more casual), in your speech, even in your thoughts, take a careful look and make sure you aren’t harming your own confidence.

1. Won’t. The word won’t often sounds like defeat. At best it sounds negative; at worst it carries an assumption that you’re locked into a single response and unwilling to try other solutions. Focus on the positive as much as possible. Instead of “I won’t do this,” try “I’m willing to try this out.” Instead of “It won’t work,” say “Let’s work through these concerns.”

2. Maybe. An ambivalent word, maybe shows a lack of commitment, intention, and direction. You may be intending it to express uncertainty about a specific thing, but it’s likely to be interpreted more broadly, as a reflection of your character. Be confident in your responses, even if you can’t fully say yes or no. Try “I’d like to see more details first.”

3. Sorry. Do you find yourself saying sorry when an apology is not even warranted? Do you open requests for information or resources with “I’m sorry, but…”? Say what you have to say and ask for what you want without apologizing. If you’ve messed up or something terrible has happened, sorry is perfectly appropriate, so say it and mean it. The rest of the time, cut it out.

4. Like. Some words are so woven into the everyday vernacular that we use them without even being aware of it. But once you have like on your radar, it’s seriously distracting. It waters down your message, making you sound less serious and confident.

5. Just. Much like like, just is often used reflexively and unconsciously. It’s a qualifier that makes you sound unsure of yourself and tentative, almost apologetic: “I just want to check….” “I’m just concerned….” It’s very often seen in email, so watch for it there and elsewhere.

6. Actually. It kind of makes for a know-it-all tone, but the effect is (would you be tempted to use actually here?) to make you sound less smart and more insecure. Another frequent placeholder that you’d do well to get rid of.

Read On…

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