Does it ever feel like people take advantage of you? Are you an easy target for bullies? Do you want to sound more confident and assert yourself without being rude?
I know the feeling. There used to be a fine line between getting trampled on and being mean in my vocabulary.
I never knew how to express my thoughts without sounding arrogant, so I mostly stayed quiet.
But that changed. I listened to a bunch of TED Talks about confidence and started taking advice from life and career coaches.
The result I got using what I learned amazed me!
Today I’d like to share the wisdom with you.
Want to sound more confident and assertive using simple phrases? Let’s go!
1) “I’m not willing to.”
Whenever someone asks me to do something, and I say, “I don’t want to,” they expect me to explain why. Mostly it’s in an attempt to make me reconsider.
In my experience, saying “I’m not willing to” has a different effect.
It sounds powerful. And shows you’re confident about your reasons for saying no. Willingness also has a lot to do with values and beliefs.
People know asking questions won’t make you budge. So most don’t even bother.
2) “I don’t agree.”
Want to start an argument? Tell someone they’re wrong. They’ll get defensive and explain their POV, trying to convince you that you’re the mistaken one.
Use “I don’t agree” next time you want to express disagreement. Saying this shows you’re confident in your reasons.
Some will leave it at that, while others will be more willing to listen to what you have to say.
If you use this phrase, you get to express your perspective without attacking someone else’s, aka, seem confident in your beliefs without being rude.
3) “I’ve got something to say.”
Have you ever tried adding to a conversation and got ignored completely? Or say what you wanted to, but feel like it had no impact? That’s probably because you’re asking to speak.
When you say, “Can I say something?” you sound unsure if your contribution is welcome.
Asking for permission to voice your opinion isn’t the best start.
Use “I’ve got something to say” instead. This is more likely to catch attention and show people that you’re self-assured in the information or ideas you want to share.
When you use this phrase, people are more likely to see whatever’s on your mind as valuable, interesting, and relevant.
4) “I want to discuss something when you have a minute.”
If something is important, you don’t really hate bothering someone with it. So why do you keep saying, “I hate to bother you, but” instead of sounding confident?
When you use this phrase, you begin with an apology. This can make others think that the value of what you’re about to say isn’t that great.
Use “I want to discuss something” to sound assertive.
If you’re unsure about your timing, add “when you have a minute” to the phrase. This shows you respect the other person’s schedule but feel confident that whatever you need to discuss is important.
5) “I have an idea,” “I need a minute,” “I want,” etc.
Can you guess what these phrases have in common? I’ll tell you:
None of them sound diminishing.
Confident people believe in their ideas and know what they need or want. These phrases would sound less assertive if you added “just” to them.
“It’s just an idea.”
“I just need a minute.”
“I just want…”
You can be polite without downplaying the importance of what you’re saying or asking. Your ideas are valuable, you’re not asking too much, and your desires aren’t too demanding.
6) “I prefer…”
Use this phrase instead of “I don’t…”
People like positive talk.
Here’s an example:
“I don’t like it when you ask me at the last minute.”
“I prefer you asking me a few weeks in advance.”
It’s simple. Replace whatever you don’t like with what you prefer.
This will help you sound more confident and increase the chances of the receiver actually remembering what you said.
CEO of Benchmark Communications Judith E. Glaser and Biochemist Richard D. Glaze co-authored this article on the effect of positive vs. negative words in conversations.
They explain how the thinking center of our brains shuts down when we feel criticized.
No one likes being told what to do or hearing that they did something wrong. When you use positive words, you assert yourself and demand results without triggering someone else’s fight or flight.
If you state your ideas without sounding doubtful, people are more likely to take you seriously and trust your suggestion.
Instead of saying, “What if we tried…” or “Maybe we should…” you should be straightforward. Use “Let’s…” followed by whatever you think you should do.
If you still want input from others or prefer sounding less cocky, you can phrase your idea like this:
“Let’s put the candles in the middle of the table. What do you think?”
Asking for their thoughts after stating your idea won’t diminish the value of it like doubtful words do.
8) “Do you have any questions?”
Have you ever explained something to someone only to be met with a blank stare?
I once had to give training to new company employees. It was really overwhelming. But I knew I had to sound confident if I wanted them to respect me as senior staff.
Instead of periodically asking, “Am I making sense?” I kept talking and asked them if they had any questions about the particular section when I was done explaining it.
I know how it feels, though. Silence can make you doubt yourself and wonder if anyone understands what you’re talking about.
But when you ask people if you’re explaining things okay or making sense, you unintentionally make it seem like you’re unsure if you’re qualified to speak on the matter.
Wait until you’re done before giving your audience a chance to ask for clarity.
9) “In my experience…”
Sometimes you might be unsure or don’t want to take the blame if things go south. I get that. But you can still share your ideas or opinion with confidence.
Phrases like “I’m no expert, but…” or “I could be wrong, but…” can make you sound weak.
Saying, “In my experience…” will show that you’re drawing on your own knowledge and experience, but know that the result could differ for someone else.
This way, you’re contributing without undermining yourself, making you sound more confident.
Confidence is a skill. With enough practice, you’ll sound confident no matter what you say.