Words are powerful. They can elevate, enlighten, encourage, and shame. They can heal and they can wound. They can also complement or detract from the image you want others to see when they interact with you. While we can’t choose every word we say, we can rid ourselves of the ones that don’t serve us. Here are the ones I plan to send to the dumpster this year:
- “I guess so.” Guessing is for the lazy and the clueless. “Yes” is stronger. “No” is stronger still.
- “Whatever.” This is passive-aggression at its worst. It translates as, “I’m not going to fight you, but I don’t agree.”
- “It is what it is.” This phrase may sound wise, but often it really means, “There’s nothing I can do about this situation and I’m not going to put any effort into it, in any case.” Instead, how about saying, “Let’s see what we can do.”
- “I’ll try.” This phrase is, frankly, a stall. It’s a stand-in for “no way!” when we just don’t want to say no in person. As Yoda once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Instead, say “I will” or “I won’t.”
- “I don’t know.” When we use this phrase too often, it can make us sound dimwitted or, at the very least, like someone who is not resourceful. Instead, consider saying, “Here’s what I know” or “That’s a great question. How can we find the answer?”
- “No one asked me, but…” These words reek of self-pity. Instead, say “Here’s what I believe/know/think…”
- “I’m sorry!” Although apologizing is crucial when you have harmed someone, these words become automatic for many of us, especially when we are trying to be “nice.” Unfortunately, it can make us sound less than confident. Substitute apologies with gratitude instead. Replace “I’m sorry for bothering you” with “Thanks for seeing me on short notice.”
- “Sort of” and its twin, “kind of.” These words dilute the power of your message. People who accomplish things don’t sorta kinda do them, they do them. You wouldn’t want your doctor to tell you he “kind of” doesn’t like the results of your blood panel and “sort of” thinks you should be on medication. Right? You want clarity from him, which is what everyone wants from you.
- “With all due respect.” This phrase signals to the listener that you are about to say something negative, tactless, or insulting. Instead, say nothing. No one wants to hear the next part of that sentence!
Which words and phrases would you add? Let us know in the Comments section!