Communication is sometimes exceedingly difficult. As you share your thoughts, you want to appear self-assured, but not cocky. You want to come across as friendly, but not insecure. Whether you are typing an email to a client or picking up the phone for a call with a team member, it is important to use the right phrases—and nix the wrong ones.
There are a few phrases that always come across poorly. Following are some of these phrases that you should learn to avoid.
“I could be wrong.”
It is important to avoid the arrogance of believing you are always correct. You do not need to qualify your ideas with this statement. This phrase undermines your thoughts before they have even had a chance to get it out. While you might be tempted to say this to avoid appearing confrontational, you are building dissension, which leads to the confrontation you were trying to avoid.
“This is just my opinion.”
It is already understood that you are sharing our thoughts when you participate in a conversation. Therefore, there’s no need to say this phrase, which can make your idea seem insignificant. If you feel the need to belittle your own thoughts out loud, why should your colleagues or clients respect them?
“It’s out of my hands.”
This is how you claim to have no responsibility or accountability. It is basically like saying, “I can’t do anything about this.” Leaders who say this sound anemic and lose trust and respect. If you are not a leader and you say this, you end up sounding incompetent. No matter what the situation, this phrase does not make anyone feel better.
Sometimes a genuine apology is necessary in the workplace. This is not the case when you reach out to request someone’s time and apologize in the process. This demonstrates that you do not value your own time or think your request is important. Never say things like “I’m sorry to bother you” or “I’m sorry to follow up so soon.”
“Would it be possible …?”
Fill in the blank here. Chances are, you have used this statement before. However, the phrase tends to undercut both you and whatever you are about to propose. When the other person hears these words, they automatically think it may be impossible. Your request takes on new unintended layers. Instead, say something like “Can you send me your response by Thursday?” or “Can we present this instead?” This is about being deliberate about you requests.
“I hope that’s okay.”
This is a common statement you should drop at the end of a big ask. Because it may not be okay. You give up your authority when you make this statement. Even if the other person is not okay with what you have just said, the task probably still must get done.
“I feel like …”
This phrase is valuable when navigating a dispute, but it minimizes your power if you say it in a meeting or introducing a new idea or initiative. Instead of saying “I feel like we should start the campaign with this product” simply say, “Let us start the campaign with this product.”
“Does that make sense?”
This question makes you seem insecure, so stop using it. Instead of rallying the troops to stand behind your idea, this question makes you seem weak by needing to have others approve your thoughts. However, it sometimes may be beneficial if you are wanting to make sure your presentation was clearly understood.
Communication can sometimes be difficult. You may have the best intentions when you say the phrases above, but these statements undercut your expertise. Remember the value you bring with your ideas and thoughts and avoid using phrases that make you seem insecure. And this will help you thrive.