12 phrases to avoid if you want to sound more confident

Confidence plays a crucial role in achieving success, and part of nurturing it involves paying attention to the subtle factors that might undermine it on a daily basis.

One area worth considering is the language we use in our daily interactions.

I have read loads of books on self-esteem and personal development. One piece of advice they all contain is;

Mind your words:

Sharing is caring, right?

Here are 12 phrases to avoid if you want to sound more confident.

1) “Just”

Using the word “just” can sometimes make a person sound less confident because it can convey hesitation, uncertainty, or an attempt to downplay your position or request.

For instance, when you say, “I just wanted to ask,” or “It’s just a small suggestion,” it can make your statement or request seem less important.

“I just wanted to check if…” or “I’m just wondering if it’s possible…” can imply that you’re sorry for bothering the other person, which can undermine your confidence in expressing your needs.

When I found that this word can portray less confidence, I made it my mission to delete it from my subconscious. I have been somewhat successful. 

You too can, so keep trying.

2) “This is just my opinion, but…” 

When you develop a habit of using prefaces or phrases that are negative, it can diminish the confidence with which you express your opinions.

One common example is saying, “This is just my opinion, but…” or “I may be wrong, but…” 

This kind of expression not only undermines belief in your viewpoint but also sounds apologetic.

Moreover, the word “just” in this context signifies “only.” By using it, you inadvertently downplay the value of your opinion, and your listener may pick up on this, consciously or subconsciously.

So, if you hold a strong point of view, why use an expression that portrays uncertainty or even insecurity?

If your facts are right, it is important to express them confidently and compellingly.

3) “I’m no expert, but…” 

If you tend to add qualifiers like, “I’m no expert, but…” or “I’m not sure what you think, but…” before sharing ideas, you risk coming off as less confident.

This tendency often stems from a desire to avoid sounding overly assertive or arrogant or from a fear of being wrong. 

Nevertheless, the use of qualifiers can diminish the credibility of your statements. It is common to offer opinions that may prove inaccurate. 

There is no need to waste your words by preemptively pointing out potential mistakes before expressing your thoughts.

4) “Um”, “Uh”

It’s pretty common for people to use filler words when they’re trying to gather their thoughts. 

But here’s the thing: those fillers can be pretty distracting for the people listening to you, and it can make them less interested in what you’re saying.

Once in a while I develop blog posts from podcasts and webinars, and I find a lot of so-called experts uttering these words. Besides portraying a lack of confidence, the words can also be downright irritating.

So, if you tend to say “Um” or “Uh” a lot, here’s a little tip for you; Whenever you’re asked a question, take just a couple of seconds to really think about what you want to say. 

That momentary pause can help you start your response with confidence and make you come across as more authoritative and sure of yourself.

You can also replace those filler words with stronger and more meaningful ones. By doing that, you’ll keep your speech flowing smoothly without resorting to unnecessary fillers.

5) “I’m sorry”

Do you catch yourself apologizing even when there’s no need for it? Do you often start requests for information or resources with phrases like “I’m sorry, but…”? 

Well, here’s a little reminder: You don’t have to apologize for simply speaking your mind or asking for what you need. 

Confident individuals are secure enough to admit when they’re wrong. However, overusing “I’m sorry” can reflect a sense of inferiority.

Take a moment to reflect on how often you apologize throughout the day. Did you actually do something wrong? More often than not, the answer is no. 

Personally, I used to say sorry every time someone pushed me over on busy streets. Come to think of it, they should be the ones apologizing. Not me!

Before automatically resorting to those words, pause and consider if they truly serve a purpose in the situation. Save those apologies for when you’ve genuinely made a mistake.

6) “I won’t”

i wont 12 phrases to avoid if you want to sound more confident


It’s important to maintain a positive focus. The phrase “I won’t” can often convey a sense of negativity. 

It can also portray a refusal to consider alternative solutions. 

Instead of saying, “I won’t do this,” consider saying, “I’m willing to give this a try.” 

Rather than stating, “It won’t work,” suggest, “Let’s address these concerns together.” 

By emphasizing the positive and showing a willingness to explore different approaches, you not only exude confidence but also foster more constructive engagement.

7) “Maybe”

Using the word “maybe” can make you sound less confident because it conveys ambivalence and a lack of commitment, intention, and direction. 

While you may intend it to express uncertainty about a particular matter, it is often interpreted more broadly, reflecting on your overall character.

It’s important to be confident in your responses, even if you can’t give a definitive yes or no. 

Instead, consider saying something like, “I’d like to see more details first.” 

This shows that you are interested in gathering more information before deciding, rather than relying on a vague and indecisive response like “maybe.”

8) “We can just do whatever you want” 

Confidence is often associated with having a clear stance and expressing your opinions or preferences. 

By saying, “We can just do whatever you want,” you convey a passive and uncertain attitude, which can undermine your perceived confidence and authority. 

By deferring the decision entirely to the other person, you appear unsure or unable to make a confident choice. It can also suggest a lack of initiative or leadership, as if you are unwilling to take charge or contribute your own ideas.

It’s better to engage in a collaborative decision-making process rather than rely solely on the other person’s choice.

9) “I’m not sure of…  I need time to decide”

It’s perfectly okay to take a moment and weigh a decision, but it’s important to avoid sounding indecisive. 

When you come across as full of doubts, it can make others question your ability to make confident choices. 

To express your need for time to think things through without conveying insecurity, you can try something like this: 

“I’m still in the process of deciding, and I appreciate your patience. I need some time to figure out what feels right for me and what I truly want.” 

This way, you convey a sense of confidence in your ability to make a thoughtful decision while acknowledging the importance of taking time before arriving at the decision.

10) “What do you think about that?”

Confidence is about having faith in your own ideas and being willing to express them. Asking, “What do you think about that?” can sound less confident because it sounds like seeking validation from others. 

By relying heavily on someone else’s opinion, it suggests a lack of personal conviction or a hesitation to take ownership of your own thoughts and decisions.

When I wanted to cook something exciting, I would always ask my husband what he thought about it. It turns out I had no confidence in my cooking abilities, so I craved reassurances from others.

By sharing your own opinions and then engaging in a constructive discussion, you convey confidence and encourage others to contribute their thoughts without solely relying on their input to form your own perspective.

11) “I believe” or “I think” 

Using phrases like “I believe” or “I think” can make you sound less confident because they introduce an element of doubt into your statements. 

While it’s important to acknowledge that opinions can vary, using these phrases can undermine the assertiveness of your statements.

It can also invite others to question or challenge your viewpoints more easily, as it signals a level of openness to alternative perspectives.

To convey more confidence, it’s often better to present your ideas or statements directly without relying too heavily on qualifying phrases. 

Instead of saying, “I believe the solution is X,” you can state, “The solution is X.” 

This way, you assert your viewpoint with more authority and come across as more confident. Of course, it’s important to remain open to alternative perspectives.

12) “Hopefully”

“Hopefully” is typically used to express an expectation regarding a future outcome. However, using “hopefully” in certain contexts can convey a sense of uncertainty or lack of confidence.

For example, when you use “hopefully,” you are expressing a desire for something to happen. By doing so, you imply that you don’t have control over the outcome and are relying on external factors.

This can give the impression that you are unsure about an outcome, reducing the overall confidence of your statement.

Final thoughts

Confidence is a fantastic trait to have and exude. The way we speak says a lot about our levels of confidence. 

Avoiding the above phrases can help you navigate your personal and professional lives with style.

Remember confidence-building is a gradual process of hits and misses, ups and downs.

So, don’t be too unforgiving of yourself when your tongue slips once in a while!

Picture of Martha Croissy

Martha Croissy

Martha is a freelance writer specializing in positive psychology, self-help, and personal development topics. When not hitting the keyboard, Martha loves cooking and traveling. Email: marthacroissy@gmail.com LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martha-croissy-a81670238/

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.