9 phrases to avoid if you want to sound like a strong and confident person

Ever catch yourself spouting phrases that make you seem uncertain or weak?

If you nodded yes, it could be harming your self-confidence and self-trust.

Assertiveness is a vital life skill, yet many of us struggle to express ourselves without appearing too aggressive or defensive.

A crucial part of this is steering clear of certain phrases that hint at self-doubt.

No matter the context – be it personal relationships, professional scenarios, or casual chats – understanding which words and phrases can weaken your message is crucial.

Let’s delve into the nine phrases you should sidestep if you want to project strength and confidence.

1) “I think…”

Ever picked up on how launching a sentence with “I think” can kind of emit a whiff of uncertainty?

If you’ve ever been in the hot seat where your boss, with that know-it-all smirk, asks, “Do you think or do you know?”, you’ll get why it’s smart to steer clear of this phrase.

It often hints that you’re not fully backing your ideas and are maybe a bit too keen on getting a gold star from others.

In my book, when someone kicks off a chat with “I think,” it generally signals to me that they’re not totally grounded in their beliefs. In that moment, a little alarm bell rings in my brain, telling me to take their upcoming words with a grain of skepticism.

So, instead of relying on “I think” in your conversations, why not switch it out with a more confident “I believe” or “It looks like”? It’s like swapping a wobbly stool for a solid chair – you’ll feel much more secure!

2) “Actually…”

Ever noticed how the word “actually” can sometimes come off as correcting or one-upping someone when you’re responding to them?

Moreover, this word can also make you sound a tad insistent or critical – and let’s be honest, neither characteristic is ideal for building strong relationships.

So, instead of going with “Actually, the data shows…”, why not opt for a more diplomatic rephrase like “It appears that the data shows…”?

This little tweak delivers your point subtly, minus the sting of a rebuke.

3) “Does that make sense?”

Asking someone if they’ve grasped what you’ve said can sometimes feel a bit patronizing or belittling.

Confidence doesn’t need regular affirmation of your statements. Contrarily, it might make you seem uncertain and insecure.

Think about using different phrases when asking for feedback. Instead of questioning, “Does that make sense?”, you could ask, “What are your thoughts?” or “Do you agree?”

These alternatives communicate the same message without coming off as too pushy.

4) “Just…”

Tacking “just” in front of a request may unintentionally suggest you’re not fully standing behind your ask.

When you need a favor, clear and straightforward communication is key.

Instead of saying, “Can you just do this for me?”, consider saying, “Would you be willing to do this for me?” or “I would really appreciate it if you could do this for me.” These options project more confidence and assurance.

And let’s face it, they sound less pushy, right?

5) “I’m not sure…”

9 phrases to avoid if you want to sound like a strong and confident person 2 9 phrases to avoid if you want to sound like a strong and confident person

It’s totally fine to confess when you’re out of your depth – we all have our ‘knowledge deserts’, areas where the tumbleweed of understanding just doesn’t roll.

But, if “I’m not sure” starts becoming your catchphrase, it could paint a picture of you lacking confidence, like a superhero unsure about their superpowers.

Instead of just broadcasting your uncertainty as if it’s the evening news, why not propose an alternative path? You could say something like, “I’m not sure, but perhaps we could venture into…”

In this way, you’re admitting your knowledge gap, but also suggesting a map to navigate towards a solution. It’s like saying, “Okay, I don’t have all the answers right now, but hey, I’ve got a compass and a sense of adventure!” 

This approach keeps any self-doubt at bay while still keeping you on the journey to discovery.

6) “Sorry…”

I used to be really bad about this one. I used to over-apologize. Even for minor things, like standing a bit too close to someone at a gas station.

I eventually understood that frequent, unnecessary apologies can make it seem like we lack self-assurance. To ooze confidence, we need to curb the habit of constant apologizing.

Of course, saying “Sorry” is necessary when you’ve unintentionally upset someone. But it’s crucial to keep a check on how often you’re using this word and think about rewording your sentences.

Instead of repeatedly saying “Sorry,” try interchanging with “Excuse me” or “Pardon me.” This subtle shift shows that you’re not apologetic about everything and that you’re steering the situation confidently.

7) “I could be wrong but…”

Hesitating before you speak might inadvertently suggest you’re not fully confident in your ideas.

If you’re sure about a point, it’s wise to dodge phrases that imply doubt and could lead others to question the validity of your thoughts.

Instead of prefacing your statement with “I could be wrong but…”, try using phrases like “In my opinion…” or “From what I gather…”. 

These expressions can help you come across as more assured, without causing you to second-guess yourself.

8) “I’m just saying…”

Saying “I’m just saying” can unintentionally make it seem like your words aren’t meant to be taken seriously.

This phrase is commonly used to temper an opinion, but it might also downplay your ideas. If you’re using it to soften a critique, try to be more upfront and detailed about the issue.

Instead of “I’m just saying”, consider phrases like “Let me explain” or “Here’s the thing.” These expressions communicate that your point is valuable and that you believe in what you’re stating.

9) “I hope that’s okay…”

Using this phrase can make it seem like you’re seeking validation before taking action.

Rather than waiting for a green light, consider rewording your requests to reflect confidence and autonomy. And just to clarify, being polite and considerate is still key – you just don’t need to ask for permission.

Instead of saying “I hope that’s okay with you,” try using “I’m going to do this” or “I’ll be doing that.” These phrases show that you’re proactive and confident in your decisions.

For more delicate matters, using phrases like “I’m considering doing this” or “I would like to do that” can be helpful. This still shows you’re the decision-maker, but it avoids turning the conversation into a heated or aggressive one.

Final thoughts

Look, we’re all human – we occasionally fumble in our conversations. But if you find yourself frequently using any of the phrases mentioned earlier, it might be time to rethink how they might appear to others.

Switching these phrases with more assertive language could lead to positive changes in your relationships and boost your own confidence and self-worth.

Even I grapple with sounding confident in social situations because of my gentle voice. Yet, through practice and mindful word choice, I’m growing more conscious of how others interpret my words.

Always bear in mind:

Your choice of words can make a huge difference, so pick them thoughtfully! Also, remember to take everything you hear with a pinch of salt.

It’s absolutely fine to not know it all – there’s always something new to discover.

Franklin Carpenter

Franklin Carpenter

I am a former Mass Communications Specialist for the US Navy and I now use my skills to create content that educates and entertains. I enjoy writing catchy riffs on my guitar and spending time with my pomeranian! I hope my writing can provide readers with meaningful insights that help them make more informed decisions in life.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.