We say a LOT of words every single day. In fact, the average woman says about 20,000 per day (men say only 7,000). That is 20,000 choices we are making just by speaking. We’re always looking to add new words to our vocabulary, but rarely think about what words you should stop saying + cut out. We’ve long been to look at what we say through the lens of if it would offend or hurt someone’s feelings. What we don’t often consider in those 20,000 words, is what those specific terms say about us. Do they say we’re smart or powerful? Do they say we’re shallow or vapid?
I’m sure we’ve all had experiences where we wish we would have chosen a different word to sound more firm or had someone take our words the wrong way. To help remedy this, there are we need to cut certain words out of our vocabularies. These are the words you should stop saying.
Words that undermine your position
The words that you say build the foundation for what people think about you. There’s a reason they say the pen is mightier than the sword – words carry long-lasting weight. Particularly in a business setting, you could be using words that take away authority, perceived expertise, and letting clients, bosses, and coworkers in on your imposter syndrome. One major way you’re doing this is by adding qualifiers to your opinions like “I’m no expert…” or “I know I haven’t worked in this vertical before…” Instead of leading with your lack of experience (or self-confidence) just state your opinion! What are the chances and considerate is going to follow-up your point to ask if you’re an expert? If they do, they’re probably a jerk.
Qualifiers aren’t the only words you should stop saying. You’re inserting other words into your opinions that are taking away your power. Whenever you insert just into a sentence, it can come off as either meek + apologetic or defensive. No longer are you “just checking in.” You’re “checking in.” The same goes for actually. When you “actually want to clarify” it makes it seem like you are surprised by your need to clarify. Lastly, words that are hitting your professional appearance are space holders like um, uh, and like. It is okay to take a second to pause – you don’t have to fill the time.
Words that are *almost* right
Joey from friends may be your dream man, but that doesn’t mean you need to speak like him when Chandler gifted him Word of the Day toilet paper. If you aren’t 100% sure what a word means, don’t use or look it up! Mark Twain, one of America’s greatest writers said this, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and lightning.” I’m not too proud to admit I once said anonymously when I meant unanimously. Nothing makes you seem more out of your league than using the wrong term. If you’re in a very jargon-heavy industry, dive head first into research until you truly understand each term + can speak to them to clients + coworkers.
You’re Not Sorry
Words you should stop saying when you don’t mean them, I’m sorry. Don’t say you’re sorry when asking someone to do their job. Don’t say you’re sorry when asking an expert a question. You are not a bother. You don’t need to apologize for existing. You should only apologize when asking someone to do something outside their normal scope. You’d be surprised what effect it will have on your life and career when you cut out I’m sorry.
You do not need to apologize for saying no. It can be hard to turn down a favor or taking on extra work, but you don’t need to be sorry. No is a complete sentence. This was a big lesson Shonda Rhimes discussed in the Year of Yes. You don’t have to be sorry or give reasons when you say no. If you find it hard to quit, take a cue from Shonda + have a canned response like “No, I will not be able to do that.” Or, “No, that doesn’t work for me.” Apologizing when you say no makes your answer seem less firm + that you might be likely to change your mind with enough badgering.
You likely have your own list of words you should stop saying in addition to the ones above. “Guys” is one of the words on my list. Yours might be calling coworkers “dude” or cursing a little too much. Whatever words you should stop saying, I have faith in you. I have faith that we can all refine our speech + vocabulary to be more authoritative + always say what we truly mean.