Some people just exude confidence, right?
They don’t “umm” or “ahh”, they don’t stutter, and they don’t use certain phrases that undermine their confidence and abilities.
What’s their secret?
Well, boosting your confidence often starts with your internal dialogue and the way you express yourself to others.
By removing or reducing the use of certain phrases from your vocabulary, you can project more self-assuredness and conviction.
Here are 12 little phrases to consider eliminating or minimizing:
1) “I’m just…”
“I’m just an intern…”
“I’m just saying…”
“Just” is a word most of us use without thinking about it, but in terms of being more confident, it’s one of the worst things you can say.
You’re not “just” an intern – you’re someone who worked hard and has got a position in a company.
You’re not “just” saying something, you’re sharing an important opinion.
2) “I think…”
This is something I’ve had to work on in the professional sense. When I’m reviewing other people’s work, I used to start with, “I think you could do XYZ to improve”.
Sure, when expressing an opinion it’s fine. But when you’re making a solid suggestion that you’re sure about, it’s unnecessary.
That’s why now I try to start my feedback with, “You could do XYZ to improve.”
3) “I guess…”
If there’s one phrase to ban from your vocab to become more confident, it’s “I guess…”
Think of this line as being the opposite of assertiveness. Have you ever heard a politician, leader, or person of power use this statement?
They always make sure to sound certain when expressing an order, opinion, or suggestion.
Learn to make your decisions and statements without second-guessing yourself.
4) “Sorry, but…”
Saying “sorry” can be a habit for some people.
But it doesn’t do anyone any favors in the confidence department.
Yes, apologize when you’ve done something wrong. Say sorry when you accidentally bump into someone. When you make a mistake or hurt someone.
Don’t apologize for asking a legitimate question or when sharing your own opinion.
But if you’re a fellow Brit like me, sorry, but it’s gonna be a tough one to get out of the habit of saying.
5) “Does that make sense?”
I totally get why people use this – especially in the online world of working. Things can be easily misconstrued or misunderstood.
But the truth is, by asking, “Does this make sense?” It’s implying that you don’t have confidence in what you’ve said.
It’s like you, yourself, believe it could be confusing.
To overcome this, make sure you read what you write properly before hitting send. Think before you speak and make sure you’re not overcomplicating things.
Then there’ll be no need to ask if something makes sense or not.
6) “I’ll try…”
I’ll try vs I’ll do it.
Small change in language, big change in meaning.
“I’ll try” sounds like you’re unsure of your capabilities. It can also be perceived as a lack of commitment or willingness.
“I’ll do it” on the other hand, shows that you’re confident, capable, and up for the challenge.
Sometimes “maybe” is necessary. If you’re genuinely in two minds about something, fair enough.
But used too often, it can make you sound very indecisive.
For example, I have a cousin who always says “Maybe”. Whatever you ask her, that’s her go-to response.
And frankly, although I love her dearly, it’s quite infuriating. It makes me feel like she can’t make her mind up about anything.
And that is a major sign of low confidence.
8) “I don’t know…”
I’m all up for admitting when you genuinely don’t know something. In fact, I wish more people would simply say they don’t know, rather than make something up.
But saying, “I don’t know” too often, just like with “maybe” can make you seem unwilling or afraid to share your opinion.
Confident people usually say something along the lines of:
“I’ll look into it and get back to you.”
“That’s interesting, I need to find out more about this topic.”
9) “Is that okay?”
You’ve just given a new employee, who’s under your training, a task to do. You finish with, “Is that okay?”
No – it’s not okay. It’s not okay to undermine your instructions by asking them if they feel okay with it or not. If they don’t, they’ll say so.
But ultimately, you’re in charge and you need to show confidence in your management skills.
And if you’re worried about not creating a warm, communicative environment, a better phrase would be:
“Let me know if you have any concerns about this.”
That way you’re not asking them a question, but you’re still giving them the opportunity to raise any issues they have.
10) “This might be a stupid question, but…”
You’ve heard it before but I’ll remind you:
There’s no such thing as a stupid question!
Ban this from your vocabulary immediately.
You see, before you’ve even asked your question, you’ve made yourself seem unsure. You’ve already alluded to the idea that what you’re going to ask is somehow silly or unimportant.
Just ask the question.
Chances are, other people have been wondering about the same thing too.
11) “I’m no expert, but…”
But if it’s your field, you’re probably more of an expert than the person you’re talking to, right?
This phrase makes it seem like you don’t have confidence in your skills or abilities.
And even if you don’t, let’s say you suffer from imposter syndrome like so many of us do, you don’t need to let the world know that.
Take a deep breath, hold your head high, and share what you need to share.
12) “Only if you want to…”
And finally, this phrase makes you sound unsure of your request or suggestion.
It’s best to just voice what you need to say, and if the other person has their reservations, you can deal with it then.
But by saying this, it’s like you’re already preempting that they’re going to disagree with you.
Not only does it make you sound less confident, but it actually can make the other person hesitate too.
For example, my friend and I were planning to go to a club after dinner one evening. I didn’t mind going either way, but she was pretty keen.
Just as I was about to agree, she added, “But only if you really want to”…and it made me think again. If she hadn’t said that, I would have said, “Yeah, let’s go for it.”
So, remember, being confident is a state of mind. And the language you use heavily influences your mindset.
Just by banning these 12 simple phrases, you’ll be on your way to a more confident version of yourself.