11 common words that make you sound less confident (and how to replace them)

Are you tired of sounding like a timid mouse rather than a roaring lion? Do you find yourself using words that make you sound less confident?

Using vague, apologetic, or uncertain language can undermine your confidence and diminish the impact of your message. But don’t worry, you don’t need to hire a speech therapist or buy a thesaurus. 

In this article, we’ll go through 11 common words that make you less confident and teach you how to replace these verbal crutches with language that exudes authority. Let’s get it! 

1) “Um” and “Ah”

I’ll be honest, using filler words such as “um” and “ah” is the verbal equivalent of awkwardly shuffling your feet or avoiding eye contact during a conversation

These words can make you sound less confident and take away from your message. 

Instead, try taking a deep breath or pausing to collect your thoughts before speaking. 

This will give you time to organize your ideas and choose your words wisely. 

Another tip is to practice active listening, which can help you stay engaged and focused on the conversation, and avoid filler words altogether. 

And if all else fails, try rehearsing your speech or presentation in advance, so you can speak with clarity when the time comes. 

Remember, the words you choose can have a significant impact on how you are perceived.

2.)”Kinda” and “Sorta”

Here’s the thing: words like “kinda” and “sorta” can make you sound like you’re sitting on the fence or not fully committed to your message. 

These uncertain words make you appear hesitant.

Filter out these words with more secure, specific, and definitive language that clearly conveys your thoughts. 

Don’t use “I kinda liked the presentation,” use “I enjoyed the presentation and found it informative.” And instead of saying “I sorta disagree,” say “I respectfully disagree, and here’s why.”

Your words are your ambassadors, so you want to make sure they’re working hard for you. 

So, go forth and speak with conviction!

3) “I think” or “I feel”

Fun fact: starting a sentence with “I think” or “I feel” makes you appear like you’re not fully satisfied with your opinion. 

Replace these phrases with more assertive language; use “I believe” or “I am confident.” 

For example, rather than “I think we should increase our marketing budget,” say “I believe we should increase our marketing budget because it will improve our sales.”

The power of persuasion is in the strength of your words. Speak your mind, and your ideas will stand out from the crowd.

4) “Sorry”

To tell you the truth, saying “sorry” when there’s nothing to apologize for might cause you to appear meek and inferior. 

So try using language that acknowledges the issue without apologizing, such as “Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”

Of course, there are times when an apology is necessary. In those cases, apologize sincerely and move on.

But don’t apologize unnecessarily or use it as a crutch in your communication. Confidence is not about being perfect, but about being authentic and honest. 

So, own your mistakes when necessary, but don’t apologize for simply existing. 

I used to be a serial apologizer, constantly saying “I’m sorry” for things that didn’t require an apology.

It wasn’t until a colleague pointed out that I was regularly apologizing when I didn’t need to that I became aware of the impact my words had on my self-esteem.

5) “Maybe” or “Possibly”

words to add on your vocab 11 common words that make you sound less confident (and how to replace them)

Using words like “maybe” or “possibly” will come across as if you’re passive and not fully sure about what you’re saying. 

It’s like telling someone you’ll meet them at the party, but “maybe” you’ll be late, “possibly” you’ll bring a friend, and who knows, maybe you’ll even wear a hat.

Use phrases like “I will” or “I can.” So don’t say “Maybe I can finish the project by Friday,” instead say “I will finish the project by Friday.”

After all, you don’t want your communication to be like a game of chance. Be direct and clear, and others will respond accordingly.

6) “Just”

The use of “just” diminishes the importance of what you’re saying. It’s like telling someone you’re “just” a beginner, or you’re “just” trying to help out.

So next time, remove “just” and make your direct statement. For example, rather than saying “I’m just calling to follow up,” say “I’m calling to follow up on our conversation.”

Hey, you’re not “just” anyone, you’re you, and that’s pretty great. 

So, take away “just” from your vocabulary and watch that confidence soar!

7) “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know”

Admitting that you don’t know something can be honest and admirable, but using these words too often will result in you looking weak and unconfident. 

It’s like telling someone you’re not sure if you can swim, but you’re “pretty sure” you can doggy paddle.

Try “I’ll find out” or “Let me get back to you.” For instance, when you’d usually say “I’m not sure how to fix this issue,” use “Let me look into this and get back to you with a solution.”

So, in essence, you’re being honest about what you don’t know, but showcasing your boldness by taking action to find the right answer.

8) “Sorry to bother you”

I know we’ve gone over “sorry” but “sorry to bother you” is a whole different can of worms!

When you start off an email or message with “sorry to bother you,” you’re essentially apologizing for your existence. 

You’re implying that your message or request is an annoyance to the other person, which is not the best way to start a conversation. 

Plus, let’s be real – you’re probably not really sorry for reaching out. You’re just trying to be polite.

Switch it up! Use a direct greeting such as “Good morning” or “Hello.” Replace “Sorry to bother you, but I have a question,” with “Good morning, I have a question.”

By using a direct greeting, you’ll show that you value the other person’s time and that you’re confident in your reason for contacting them. 

So, skip the apologies and show your badassery from the get-go. 

After all, you’re not a bother, you’re a valuable member of the conversation.

9) “I’ll try”

From my experience, “I’ll try” can make it seem like you’re not really dedicated to a task or goal. 

It’s like telling someone you’ll “try” to make it to their dinner, but you’re not making any promises–and we all know “try” is a sugar-coated version of “no.”

Try employing phrases like “I will” or “I can.” Replace “I’ll try to finish the project by Friday,” with “I will finish the project by Friday.” 

You’ll show that you’re secure in your abilities and committed to achieving your goals

I used to use “I’ll try” often when asked to complete a task. I thought it made me sound less pushy and more open to feedback. 

However, I eventually realized that it actually made me sound less confident and less committed to the task at hand–not something employers like to hear! 

10) “It’s not a big deal”

reveals persons true character 11 common words that make you sound less confident (and how to replace them)

The problem with saying “It’s not a big deal” is that it can undermine your accomplishments, ideas, or contributions. 

When you downplay your own achievements, it might make you appear less credible.

It’s important to acknowledge your successes and contributions. This doesn’t mean that you should brag or boast, but rather you should be satisfied and content with what you’ve done. 

Let’s say that you and your team worked hard to complete a project at work.

If someone compliments you, instead of saying “Oh, it was nothing, it wasn’t a big deal,” you could say something like “Thank you, I’m really proud of what we accomplished. We put in a lot of hard work and it paid off.” 

See the difference?

11) “I’m not really good at this”

Expressions that make you sound less confident can be like wearing a disguise. It’s like you’re trying to hide your true self behind a mask of uncertainty and self-deprecation. 

Why not show off your true colors?

When you downplay your accomplishments with phrases like “It’s not a big deal,” imagine a being magician and advertising yourself as “just okay.” 

Instead use “I’m not as familiar with this, but I’m willing to give it my best shot.” This phrase acknowledges that you may be new to a particular task or skill, but it also suggests that you are willing to learn and grow.

Embrace your strengths, own your accomplishments, and approach new challenges with grace and humor. Life is way more fun that way! 


So to recap, ditch the filler words, skip the apologies, and let your words stand tall

You don’t need a fancy vocabulary or perfect grammar to communicate effectively; you just need to believe in yourself and your message. 

And if you’re not there yet, don’t worry! Just remember that effective communication is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. 

Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta is a freelance writer and editor, entrepreneur and an avid traveler, adventurer and eater. He lives a nomadic life, constantly on the move. He is currently in Manila, Philippines and deciding where his next destination will be.

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