I read an article this morning about the most common words that powerful people don’t use, and I thought it was quite enlightening. Perhaps I will start to avoid these words! How many of these do you use?
1. “Just” (protector words)
The word “just” diminishes the content that follows this word. It is a “protector” word, a word that softens what you want to achieve. When you say, “I’m just following-up on my below e-mail…,” you are downplaying the importance of your e-mail and why you are reaching out. You are softening your request for a response.
If you are taking the time and energy to follow-up on an unanswered e-mail, it is important. Do not make it look unimportant when it is important to you. This can come across as passive aggressive, which can create resentment and lessen your authority.
I use just a lot – I am going to practice NOT using this word!
2. “Very,” “Absolutely” and “Totally” (drama words)
Words such as “very,” “absolutely” or “totally” do not add value to the noun you want to describe or highlight. You do not need to say, “I’m very excited.” Saying “I’m excited” does the trick. Superfluous adverbs and adjectives can add unnecessary drama. When you appreciate the power of words, you use less of them to communicate the same thing. When you use fewer words, each word becomes more powerful and can be better appreciated by others.
Absolutely is a favourite word of mine – I will absolutely stop using this word (haha!)
3. “I think…” or “Arguably” (protector words)
Each and every thought you put out there is your opinion. You do not need to preface your ideas with “I think.” Similar to the word “just,” “I think” and “arguably” are protector words. It broadcasts to the world that you may be wrong but that is okay because it is only what you think. It is a way to protect yourself from attack, should someone hold a different opinion.
Words you may be using to try and protect yourself are undermining your power. You are entitled to your opinion. Don’t undermine your authority to have one. Sharing your opinion without hesitation, even if others disagree, can help to garner respect.
I have done well eliminating the “I think” because I know I am entitled to my own opinion!
4. “I’ll try” and “Don’t worry about it.” (ability words)
Saying that you will try to do something suggests that you are unsure of your abilities. If you say you will do something, people know that you will try. Saying, “I’ll try” can make people feel nervous. The last thing you want your manager to think is that you lack confidence in yourself or even your ability to try.
When you express too much confidence and say “Don’t worry about it,” you leave people in the dark about what you are doing and belittle them as you may think that they cannot do something. Leaders empower others, not strip them of their power.
I don’t like hearing people tell me something and then say “don’t worry about it” at the end. Why did you bother telling me then?
5. “Sorry” (apology words)
The more you apologize, the less powerful your apology becomes. Use “sorry” sparingly. Use it only for instances directly caused by you and not for instances out of your control. For example, you are late to a meeting because of a car accident that happened two blocks from work. You may share why you are late, but you do not need to apologize for it.
I’m Canadian – how can I NOT use this word/
6. “Like,” “Whatever,” “Etcetera” and “…and so on and so forth” (filler words)
Keep the “likes” and similar phrases to a minimum. These are common filler words. People use them when they are trying to think of what they want to say next. It dilutes the potency of the words you use. Instead, pause for a moment to collect your thoughts.
Yes – “like” – I don’t think the younger generation realize how annoying this word can be. But I am guilty of the “whatever”.
7. “Actually” and “Obviously” (superior words)
Words such as “actually” and “obviously” can rub people the wrong way. These words suggest that the other person does not understand the issue or circumstance (and that you are right) or understands something (when they may not). Making assumptions about other people’s levels of understanding shows your lack of understanding and can annoy or frustrate others and cause people to disrespect you.
I don’t use obviously but I do use actually.
This is a good article, and made me realize how much I use some of these words and how I can sound more professional in my day to day life.
(and I have had to consciously take out the word “just” in a few of my statements in here! Such an easy word to use and yet not necessary.)