7 phrases only really sophisticated people use, according to psychology


What do you imagine when I say that word?

Chances are, you’re thinking of wealthy people in expensive clothes who say stuff like “Yes, indeed” and “Darn it!”

While there definitely is some truth to that – many wealthy people are sophisticated and classy, after all – it’s actually possible to be sophisticated even if you don’t drive a Porsche.

The only question is… how?

Well, a lot of it comes down to your language.

The way you express yourself says a great deal about who you are and how you think.

And no, I’m not saying you should throw in a couple more pompous phrases.

I’m saying you ought to speak with emotional intelligence.

Because emotional maturity is the true secret of sophistication.

Okay, are you ready?

Here are the 7 phrases only really sophisticated people use.

1) “I understand where you’re coming from”

Empathy is the peak of sophistication.

Do you know why?

Because it shows open-mindedness and intelligence.

When you tell people that you understand where they’re coming from, you’re automatically letting them know you possess a crucial trait: sensitivity to context.

In other words, you know that nothing is ever black-and-white.

You are well-read, knowledgeable, and understand that things are usually more complicated under the surface, which is why you can fully appreciate other people’s perspectives and experiences.

Psychologists agree with me on this.

According to Psychology Today, “Being open to experience is associated with creativity, curiosity, and a hunger for knowledge and learning. People high in this trait are also divergent and abstract thinkers, they are able to come up with multiple novel solutions to a difficult problem.”

And just like that, there’s your first sophisticated phrase!

2) “I respect your decision”

“Respect is recognizing someone else’s humanity or personhood,” says Cindy Watson B.A., LLB, JD. “It is seeking to listen to and understand the other person. It is ensuring one does not see other people as mere means to an end.”

Sounds a lot like empathy, right?

Yep, this second phrase is rooted in the same trait as the previous one. Except this time, it is all about respecting other people’s boundaries and decisions.

It is about recognizing everyone’s autonomy.

When you respect someone’s choices without getting upset – even if you don’t necessarily agree with them – you’re displaying empathy, understanding, and most of all, calmness.

And embodying a sense of calm is extremely sophisticated.

It means you won’t get all riled up if things don’t go your way; it means your emotions don’t control you. You control them.

Classy people don’t get rattled by just about anything. They are too self-assured for that.

And the result is that they inherently respect other people’s choices in life.

3) “I sincerely apologize”

If you want to be genuinely sophisticated, you have to know how to apologize properly.

Thus the basis of emotional intelligence.

There will be no “I’m sorry you feel that way” and “I’m sorry for whatever it is I did” in a classy person’s vocabulary. Na-ah.

A genuine apology should go like this:

  • Acknowledge the specific problem and show remorse (“I did X, I know it hurt you, and I feel terrible”)
  • Take accountability (“I made a mistake”)
  • Apologize (“I’m sincerely sorry”)
  • Commit to change (“I won’t do it in the future”)

And ta-da! You’ve got yourself a proper and sophisticated apology right there.

4) “Would you like my advice or emotional support?”

phrases humble people rarely use in conversations 7 phrases only really sophisticated people use, according to psychology

Imagine someone’s feeling down about a personal issue in their life. They’re clearly upset, and you’re sitting there scratching your head, not quite sure what to do.

Do they want space? Do they want a pragmatic piece of advice? Do they just want to talk?

This is the point where many people fail because they just randomly choose one. And when that choice is wrong, they might accidentally make everything even worse.

As Joanne Davila Ph.D. explains, “Regardless of whether you’re a woman or a man, everyone needs both emotional support and practical help. Neither one is right or wrong, better or worse. The trick is knowing what is needed at any given moment and finding the right balance of listening and helping.”

An emotionally mature – and therefore sophisticated – thing to do is to simply… ask.

“I’m so sorry to hear this,” you can start off. Then say something along the lines of, “Would you like practical advice? Or do you just want to talk? Perhaps some space? I’m here for you and I want to do what feels best for you right now.”

This kind of approach gives the other person enough space to choose for themselves.

What’s more, it helps you show up as your sophisticated self in situations where many people are struggling to figure out what to do.

5) “That’s so nice of you, thank you so much”

Look, it sounds basic, but there’s no denying it: a proper and genuine “thank you” goes a long way.

People love it when their acts of kindness and love are appreciated.

In fact, studies show that happy people increase their own happiness through kindness, and one way to boost their good mood even more is to show them just how much you value them.

If someone goes out of their way to help you or if they give you a lovely compliment, for example, make sure to thank them wholeheartedly and authentically.

It’s the kind – and emotionally mature – thing to do.

6) “Would it be possible to…?”

Of course, this article wouldn’t be complete without a phrase that throws rudeness out the window.

No matter what anyone tells you, rudeness simply isn’t classy.

Speaking down to people is not sophisticated, even if you hold a position of power (and especially then). It’s just arrogant and impolite.

When I want to ask someone for a favor, I make sure to use polite language that gives them a way out if need be.

“Would it be possible to leave my suitcase here for a few hours after check-out?” you might ask in a hotel.

“Would it be possible to move to the table by the window?” you may say in a restaurant.

Whatever it is and wherever you are, the most sophisticated course of action is to be polite and unassuming.

It’s to show a bit of humility without coming off as too shy or quiet.

It’s to be assertive and kind.

7) “It’s been a pleasure to meet you”

Sophistication isn’t just about the first impression – it’s also about the last.

If your social interaction is coming to an end, be it a conversation with a stranger or a business meeting, make sure to show the other person you genuinely had a good time.

This is when “It’s been a pleasure to meet you” comes in handy.

If it sounds too pompous for your liking, you can also use other alternatives, such as:

  • “It’s been lovely to meet you”
  • “Thank you for spending the day with me, it was great”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s all about emotional intelligence and kindness.

That is where true sophistication lies.

Picture of Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling has a background in entrepreneurship, having started and managed several small businesses. His journey through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship provides him with practical insights into personal resilience, strategic thinking, and the value of persistence. Ethan’s articles offer real-world advice for those looking to grow personally and professionally.

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