15 phrases smart people never use (so you shouldn’t either)

Have you ever talked to someone who seems to have a way with words, always choosing the right ones in any situation? Have you ever wondered how they do it?

I have, and I’ve discovered that it’s not just about the words they use but also the phrases they avoid. 

In this article, we’ll delve into 15 phrases that smart people steer clear of and why you should, too.

Let’s see what they are!

1) “I can’t.”

When faced with a challenge, smart folks don’t dwell on what they can’t do. They don’t want any mental barriers to get in their way. 

Instead, they focus on how they can adapt and overcome. By avoiding “I can’t,” they create a mindset of possibilities and growth, and they encourage themselves to think creatively. 

I’ve found this to be a game-changer in my own life, and it’s a simple shift that can make a huge difference.

2) “That’s impossible.”

This is a close second to “I can’t.” Smart people never limit themselves or others by labeling things as “impossible.” 

They know that breakthroughs often come from seemingly impossible situations, and they remain open to exploring new ideas and solutions

Embrace the power of possibility, and you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve!

3) “It’s too late.”

Oh, here’s another self-defeatist statement I often hear – especially from people in their 30s and 40s. 

I totally understand where they’re coming from, though. When you feel like the right time to go after your dreams has passed by, it can be easier to just throw in the towel and say, well, too late for that. 

Smart people never let the fear of being “too late” hold them back. They know that it’s never too late to start something new, change direction, or pursue a goal

No matter what age they are, smart people have this mindset that there’s always a world of exciting adventures out there, if only we’d let go of the perceived limitation of time. 

4) “I’m not good enough.”

Self-doubt can be crippling, and statements like this one only serve to reinforce it even more. 

I’ve been guilty of saying this in the past, but over the years, I’ve learned that what I tell myself often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Smart people understand the power of language. They know that words can shape our reality, and by saying “I’m not good enough,” they’d be reinforcing a negative belief. 

Instead, they choose to use positive and empowering language, focusing on their potential for growth and their commitment to continuous learning and self-improvement.

Aside from that, smart people practice self-compassion. They know that nobody is perfect and everyone has strengths and weaknesses. So instead of being overly critical of themselves, they are kind and patient. 

5) “I’ll try.”

What about “I’ll try?” On the surface, it sounds like a positive statement, right? You aren’t saying you can’t do it, after all. 

But no, it actually isn’t a smart thing to say as well. Because it can imply a lack of commitment. 

Smart people are clear about their intentions and avoid making vague promises. They say “I will” or “I won’t,” showing determination and decisiveness.

6) “This is how it’s always been done.”

Another phrase smart people never say is, “This is how it’s always been” or “This is how we always do things here”, or anything along those lines. 

You see, those phrases show a fixed mindset, which is something smart people just don’t have. 

A fixed mindset basically means that you don’t believe there’s anything you can do to improve or change things. And that’s definitely self-defeating. 

That’s why smart people never get stuck in the rut of tradition. They’re constantly looking for new and improved ways to do things, and they don’t let outdated practices hold them back. 

Just because something has “always been done” a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. After all, innovation is crucial to progress

7) “I already know that.”

Here’s another example of a phrase that shows a fixed mindset. Obviously, smart people don’t say this either. 

Because they believe that no matter how smart someone is, there’s always more to learn. 

Smart people embrace a growth mindset and are excited by the prospect of expanding their knowledge. 

In my own experience, it was only when I stopped assuming I knew everything and started actively seeking out new information that my world opened up in ways I never imagined!

8) “That’s not fair.”

Well, yeah, of course it isn’t. We all know this, but smart people deal with it differently. 

Rather than complain about it, they focus on what they can control and how they can improve their situation. 

Remember, fairness is subjective, and dwelling on perceived injustices will only hold you back. 

Not only that, having this mindset can easily lead you to say this next thing…

9) “It’s not my fault.”

When you’ve got that attitude that life isn’t fair or bad things happened because of outside factors, it’s easy to develop the nasty habit of blaming

In contrast, smart people take responsibility for their actions, even when things go wrong. 

Instead of blaming others or external factors, they acknowledge their role in the situation and work to find solutions. This accountability sets them apart and fosters respect from others.

10) “I don’t need any help.”

It’s a misconception that smart people think they know everything. On the contrary, they don’t! That’s why they aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it. 

They know that no one is an expert in everything, and they see so much value in collaborating with and learning from others. 

As Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

11) “I’m always right.”

As I mentioned above, one thing smart people know is that they don’t know everything. So they’ll never say an arrogant statement like, “I’m always right.” 

I can assure you, every time I encounter someone who really comes out right and says this, I’m immediately turned off. And I immediately think – “All right, I guess he’s not as smart as he appears to be.”

If you ask any smart person, they’ll be the first to tell you that they look forward to receiving feedback. And when they’re wrong, they really admit it. 

Because for the truly intelligent person, humility is a given. They are aware of their own limitations and see learning from others as a valuable resource. There’s no place for ego if you truly want to learn and grow!

12) “I don’t care.”

Now we get into the realm of apathetic phrases. I’ll start with the most common one – “I don’t care.”

This sounds so dismissive and disrespectful, doesn’t it? That’s why smart people don’t say it. 

They understand the importance of empathy and take the time to listen to others’ opinions, even if they don’t agree. You never know when someone’s perspective might change your mind or inspire a new idea.

13) “That’s not my problem.”

This one’s my personal pet peeve. I absolutely hate hearing this from co-workers or family members. It’s just so off-putting.

You’re essentially saying you’re not interested in helping the other person or even empathizing with their situation. It sends a message that you don’t care about their feelings or concerns, and that can definitely rub people the wrong way.

It implies that you’re just concerned with yourself. In short, you’re selfish. 

Smart people know that solving problems, even those that don’t directly affect them, can create opportunities for growth and collaboration. 

And even if they can’t help, they’ll say it in a sensitive way, like “I’m sorry you’re going through that. I wish I could help, but I have a lot on my plate right now.”

14) “I’m too busy.”

Speaking of having a lot on your plate brings me to “I’m too busy.”

Again, I get it – sometimes people are just busy, plain and simple. 

But when you think about it…we all have the same 24 hours in a day, don’t we?

But smart people prioritize their time effectively. That’s why they never use “I’m too busy” as an excuse. They communicate their priorities and make conscious choices about how to spend their time.

For example, I’ve found that by being honest about my commitments and focusing on what truly matters, I can make the most of my day.

15) “I don’t have time for that.”

Similar to “I’m too busy,” this phrase can be dismissive and imply that certain activities or people aren’t worth your time. 

Smart people understand the value of making time for things that matter, whether it’s learning a new skill, nurturing relationships, or taking care of their mental and physical well-being.

They create schedules that accommodate their work, personal relationships, hobbies, and self-care, ensuring they maintain a balanced and fulfilling life.

For example, if someone values personal growth and continuous learning, they might set aside time each day for reading or taking online courses, even if their schedule is busy. 

Similarly, if a person values their relationships with friends and family, they will find ways to connect with loved ones and nurture those bonds, regardless of their workload.

Picture of Roselle Umlas

Roselle Umlas

I am a freelance writer with a lifelong interest in helping people become more reflective and self-aware so that they can communicate better and enjoy meaningful relationships.

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