Avoid These 4 Phrases to Appear & Feel More Confident

The things we say and how we say them matter. Our words play a big part in how we present ourselves to the world. Want to come across as cool and confident? Here are some phrases to avoid and what to say instead.

Words are powerful. Not only do they affect how other people perceive us, but over time they can influence how we perceive ourselves. The problem is, many of us have become habitual and complacent in our speech. We have lost sight of how what we say portrays us. And our image and self-worth suffers as a result.

Do you like to define yourself by can’ts, don’ts, and sorries? Nope. That’s why it’s important to start paying attention to how you are saying what you want to say. Once you start to value your speech, not only will you appear more confident to those around you, but your thought patterns will also start to shift. You’ll actually begin to feel more confident.

For starters, here are four super common phrases to avoid in order to both appear and feel more confident.

1. I can’t.

Say this instead: I wont, Id rather, I dont, Id prefer, I choose…

When you say “I cant“, you are stripping away your own power. It’s giving the impression that some higher power has decided what you can and cannot do, and you are helpless to change it.

Instead, take responsibility. Rather than saying “I cant get this paper done on time,” try “I wont be able to get this paper done today,” or “I dont have time to finish this paper today. Does tomorrow morning work?” It’s a subtle shift, but it can completely change the meaning and feeling of what you are saying.

Never say you can’t. Be The Little Engine that Could instead.

2. I don’t know. 

Say this instead: Im not sure, Ill find out, Let me clarify, Im learning, Id like to know more.

While there is nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t know something, the way you do it matters. Saying that you don’t know is a dead end—you simply do not know. Say it often, and it may just be enough to pop your confidence balloon.

By instead saying “Im not sure, let me clarify,“ you show that you don’t know but are willing to do what it takes to find out. It shows that you have potential to grow and evolve, even when you don’t know something. That is the very essence of confidence.

happy young black woman laughing against blue wall

3. I’m sorry.

Say this instead: pardon, please excuse, are you okay?    

Okay, let’s be clear: there are times when you absolutely should say “Im sorry,“ but do you find yourself saying it more often than you should?

Perhaps you apologize when you take more than 24 hours to respond to an email. Or perhaps you’ve programmed yourself to say sorry when someone bumps into you at the supermarket.

So many of us overuse “Im sorry. Make a change. If someone bumps into you, “pardon“ is still polite, but less overly apologetic. If you’re a little late in a response, use “please excuse rather than sorrySave your sorries for when you actually have something real to be sorry for. It shows that you are self-confident and value your self-worth.

4. Um/Uh/Like.

Say this instead: [nothing]

Our day-to-day language is littered with ums, uhs, and likes. A lot of the time, we feel the need to fill in the uncomfortable silence between our sentences and clauses. Maybe it’s to prevent being interrupted. Maybe it’s insecurity. Whatever the reason, it comes off as being less intelligent and less thoughtful in our speech.

In the extreme, it can make you sound like this: “I-um-discovered that there was-like-this mistake in the manuscript-ah-edits. Would you trust that person? Or would you trust a person who slowly said, I discovered that there was a mistake in the manuscript edits. Precisely.

Filling your sentences with ums and likes only serves to make you appear less confidence and competent. Instead, don’t be afraid to pause as you are formulating your sentences. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the space you need to speak. Be sure of yourself, and people will listen.

There are loads of tips out there for how to sound, appear, and feel more attractive and confident. Start small, by cutting out the ums, cants, and dont knows from your vocabulary. It’s a small shift but a powerful one.

Do you avoid any specific words or phrases? Share them with the community below! 

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Images via Thinkstock.

72 comments

Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Sonia M

Thanks for sharing

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Latoya B
Latoya Brookins7 months ago

I say like like all the time. Like is like one of the most used words in my lexicon.

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Danii P
Past Member 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Danii P
Past Member 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Danii P
Past Member 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara7 months ago

if you are clear, people are more inclined to listen

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara7 months ago

Like commenters below I often count the filler words used by people on the news, for instance. Say what you mean.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara7 months ago

be clear

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M7 months ago

Yes the ah's and um's get real tiresome when listening to a presentation or speech and half of it consists of one um after the next um!

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