Language Warning!

I’m not talking about swearing or being rude.

The ability to communicate effectively and confidently has a huge impact on us and our confidence. Have you ever really thought about the words we use? Our language is incredibly important and often overlooked.


How many times have you expressed yourself saying you “just have a few important points to add” or something along those lines? Why include the word ‘just’? It serves to weaken your statement which is in direct contradiction to the important points you wanted to raise. Saying ‘just’ when you are asking a question is just as bad. Consider the difference between: “I’m checking with you regarding the status of my car repair” versus “I’m just checking in with you regarding the status of my car repair”. The second one diminishes the importance of the request, whether that was your intention or not.


I find myself using ‘except’ to explain why I can’t (or don’t want) to do certain things. Almost as if saying ‘no’ isn’t a good enough reason on its own. As if I need another reason as to why I can’t or don’t want to do something. Okay – so at work, you likely won’t be walking around saying ‘no’ to left, right, and center (and nor am I suggesting that you should). But there are moments saying ‘no’ is absolutely appropriate and that doesn’t make you a negative person. If someone asks your opinion, it is okay to say no, something isn’t a good idea because of reasons a, b, and c rather than saying “that’s a great idea, except reasons a, b, and c”. You don’t need to be mean, and you shouldn’t be afraid to voice your own opinions.


How often do you use the word “well”?  Often, it is a sentence starter that used to gain an extra moment to think, perhaps followed by a pause. The question you need to ask yourself is what do you say after that? Is it a statement full of confidence or is it something fluffy?  We need to remember that confidence also comes from admitting when you don’t know something. It is okay not to know or to need more time to evaluate or do research, so why not just say so?


“Actually” is a tricky one, because at first glance, it makes it seem like we’re in command, but in reality, the opposite is true. Think about it: “I actually have something to say…” or “I actually think…”.  It suggests that someone should be surprised that we have something to say or have spoken up. It sounds like we’re challenging someone (and not in a good way that inspires debate) which likely that isn’t the case. Your sentence is complete without using the word ‘actually’.

Our word choice says a lot about us. I’m not saying wipe these words from your vocabulary, but what you have to say is so valuable — don’t let that value get lost or obscured with words that lack confidence. Check your emails before you hit send.  Listen to your own speech patterns. Then take a moment to consider if you have any words in there that aren’t doing you any favours and delete them. Try it. You may be surprised at how confident you sound and the results that you get.

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