17 little phrases to ban from your vocab to become classier

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In the world of communication, not all phrases are created equal. Some words and expressions we casually sprinkle into our daily conversations can unintentionally detract from our perceived sophistication and class.

It’s like wearing a beautifully tailored suit or dress, only to pair it with worn-out sneakers. The overall impression just doesn’t match up.

Becoming classier in how we express ourselves isn’t about elitism or distancing ourselves from our roots.

It’s about refining our verbal wardrobe, choosing expressions that elevate our conversations and enhance our connections with others.

It’s about being mindful of the small, seemingly insignificant phrases that, when removed, can polish our communication style and influence the way we are perceived.

Here are 17 little phrases to consider banishing from your vocabulary to elevate your linguistic class.

This isn’t about censorship or losing your authenticity; it’s about being intentional with our words to craft the best version of ourselves.

Let’s dive in.

1. “Like, you know”

Kicking off our list is the notorious duo: “like” and “you know.” These verbal crutches often infiltrate our sentences, diluting our messages and making us sound less confident.

The key to cutting them out isn’t constant self-surveillance but embracing pauses.

Silence, though momentarily awkward, grants us time to think and lends our words more weight, making our speech sound more polished and poised.

When you’re tempted to fill a pause with “like” or “you know,” remember that a moment of silence can significantly elevate the classiness of your communication.

2. “I can’t even”

This phrase, a staple in the realm of internet slang and casual conversation, often serves as a shorthand for being overwhelmed or finding something unbelievable.

While it’s relatable and expressive, it also sells our communicative abilities short. Instead of resorting to this vague expression, challenge yourself to articulate precisely what you find so astonishing or difficult.

By doing so, you not only enrich your language but also offer your listeners a clearer window into your thoughts and feelings.

Expressing yourself with specificity not only adds to your elegance but also deepens your conversations, making them more meaningful and engaging.

3. “Whatever”

“Whatever” might just be the verbal equivalent of a shrug, often used to signal indifference or concede a point without further discussion.

While it can be an easy way out of a debate or a means to avoid conflict, it also suggests a lack of passion, engagement, or respect for the conversation at hand.

To cultivate a classier communication style, strive for phrases that show you’re listening and care about the outcome, even in disagreement.

Try, “I see your point, but let’s agree to differ,” or simply, “Let’s discuss this more when we have more time.”

This approach not only demonstrates your respect for the other person’s perspective but also keeps the door open for deeper, more constructive dialogues.

4. “It’s not fair”

Complaining about fairness can sometimes make us sound juvenile or unable to cope with life’s inevitable challenges.

While it’s natural to feel aggrieved at times, constantly framing our experiences in terms of fairness can detract from our ability to navigate them with grace and resilience.

Instead, try expressing your feelings with more nuance and specificity.

For instance, if something feels unjust, articulate why it affects you or others negatively, and propose a solution or a way forward.

This shift not only enhances your communication style, making it classier and more mature, but also empowers you to take constructive action rather than remaining stuck in a cycle of complaint.

5. “This is so boring”

Declaring something as boring not only casts a negative pall over the conversation but also subtly implies that the responsibility for our entertainment lies with others.

A classier approach involves seeking and pointing out the interesting or positive aspects of any situation, thereby contributing to a more engaging and dynamic exchange.

If you’re genuinely disinterested or disengaged, consider asking thoughtful questions to steer the conversation in a more stimulating direction.

This not only shows your willingness to be involved and find common ground but also elevates the dialogue for all participants, reflecting a more sophisticated and considerate communication style.

6. “Sorry, but…”

Apologizing only to immediately follow it with a justification can come across as insincere, undermining the initial intent of the apology.

It’s a phrase that many of us use without thinking, aiming to soften the blow of our words while still standing our ground.

However, this approach can dilute our message and suggest a lack of conviction in our own statements.

Surprisingly, a classier alternative is to either apologize genuinely, without qualifiers, or to express your opinion directly, without prefacing it with an apology.

This clear communication demonstrates both respect for the other person and confidence in your own stance, fostering a more honest and mature dialogue.

7. “No offense, but…”

Let’s be real: prefacing a statement with “no offense” is almost a guaranteed way to offend.

It’s like signaling you’re about to say something harsh, but attempting to absolve yourself of the consequences beforehand.

This phrase paradoxically draws attention to the forthcoming critique and primes the listener for insult, undercutting the sincerity of any communication.

If you’re aiming for honesty and class in your interactions, it’s better to either find a genuinely constructive way to phrase your feedback or to question whether the comment needs to be made at all.

Raw honesty doesn’t require a disclaimer if it’s aimed at building up rather than tearing down.

8. “That’s just how I am”

Using “That’s just how I am” as a shield against criticism or as an excuse for not growing can be tempting.

It suggests a fixed mindset, implying that change is beyond your control and absolving yourself of responsibility for your actions or their impact on others.

Instead, embracing feedback and recognizing the potential for personal development reflects a classier, more mature approach.

It signals openness to growth and a willingness to engage in self-reflection, qualities that truly enhance our interactions and relationships.

Admitting that we are all works in progress and demonstrating a commitment to improvement can foster deeper connections and respect from those around us.

9. “It’s just a joke”

Brushing off insensitive remarks or offensive jokes with “It’s just a joke” can minimize others’ feelings and dodge accountability for our words.

This phrase often serves as a quick escape route when we realize we’ve crossed a line, but it does little to address the discomfort or hurt caused.

A classier approach involves acknowledging when a joke doesn’t land as intended and offering a sincere apology.

Recognizing the impact of our words, even in jest, and taking responsibility for them demonstrates respect, empathy, and maturity.

It’s a powerful way to show that we value our relationships and are committed to positive, considerate communication.

10. “I’m not good at this”

Confessing “I’m not good at this” right out of the gate, especially before giving something a fair shot, is a self-fulfilling prophecy that can limit our growth and potential.

I’ve caught myself saying this more times than I’d like to admit, particularly when faced with new challenges.

It’s a protective mechanism, shielding us from the vulnerability of failure. However, embracing a more constructive mindset, such as “I’m still learning,” not only adds a touch of class to our approach but also opens up a world of possibilities for personal development.

This slight shift in perspective acknowledges our current limitations while also affirming our capacity to grow, showing a commendable blend of humility and ambition.

11. “It’s not my job”

Saying “It’s not my job” can come off as dismissive and narrowly self-interested, suggesting a lack of willingness to go beyond our defined roles for the greater good of a team or project.

While it’s important to maintain boundaries and avoid being overburdened, expressing a readiness to help where we can, or guiding someone to the right resource or person, reflects a more collaborative and classy approach.

It demonstrates our commitment to the collective success, not just our individual responsibilities.

Plus, it fosters a more supportive and engaged workplace or community environment, showing that we’re team players interested in more than just our own tasks.

12. “This may sound stupid, but…”

Undermining our own ideas before we even share them with “This may sound stupid, but…” sets us up for dismissal, both from ourselves and our listeners.

It’s a phrase I’ve let slip more times than I care to count, usually when I’m feeling unsure or anxious about contributing to a conversation.

However, I’ve learned that presenting our thoughts with confidence, without preemptively belittling them, invites others to consider them more seriously.

It’s not about arrogance; it’s about giving our ideas the respect they deserve. If we don’t believe in the value of what we’re saying, why should anyone else?

Dropping this qualifier can transform how our contributions are received, showcasing our insights as worthy of attention and discussion.

13. “I guess”

Slipping “I guess” into our sentences is a subtle way of distancing ourselves from our own opinions, a hedge that suggests we’re not fully behind our words.

It’s a habit I’ve observed in myself during moments of uncertainty or when I’m trying not to rock the boat too much.

But here’s the raw truth: it often does more harm than good, watering down our statements and making us seem wishy-washy.

Embracing our viewpoints with conviction doesn’t mean we’re inflexible; it means we’re committed to our perspective while remaining open to dialogue.

Stripping “I guess” from our vocabulary is a step towards embracing and articulating our thoughts with clarity and confidence, ensuring we’re taken seriously and our ideas given the consideration they merit.

14. “We’ve always done it this way”

Championing the status quo with “We’ve always done it this way” might seem like a defense of tradition or a nod to tried-and-tested methods.

Yet, this phrase can inadvertently signal a resistance to innovation and a reluctance to adapt, qualities that are increasingly out of step in our fast-evolving world.

The counterintuitive twist? Embracing change and questioning established norms can actually be a hallmark of wisdom and class.

It demonstrates a forward-thinking mindset and a readiness to explore new possibilities for improvement.

By replacing this phrase with questions like “How can we do this better?” we not only open ourselves up to growth and learning but also encourage a culture of continuous improvement around us.

15. “It’s not that big of a deal”

Minimizing issues with “It’s not that big of a deal” might be our attempt to keep the peace or downplay our concerns, but it can also invalidate the feelings of those around us or brush aside problems that genuinely need attention.

The truth is, what might seem trivial to one person can be significant to another, and acknowledging that difference is crucial. Instead of belittling the issue, try adopting a more empathetic stance, such as “I understand this is important to you; let’s talk about why.”

This approach not only shows respect for others’ perspectives but also opens the door to more meaningful and solution-focused conversations.

It’s a more nuanced and considerate way of handling concerns, showing that we value the feelings and opinions of those we’re interacting with.

16. “Just”

Sprinkling “just” into our sentences, especially in professional settings, can unintentionally undermine our authority and diminish the importance of our requests or statements.

For example, saying “I’m just checking in” or “I just think” may seem like a way to sound more polite or less imposing, but it often has the opposite effect, making us appear less confident.

Removing “just” from our vocabulary is a simple yet powerful way to communicate more assertively and clearly.

By stating “I’m checking in” or “I think,” we stand more firmly behind our words, conveying confidence and command over the situation.

It’s a subtle change that can significantly impact how others perceive our competence and authority.

17. “Sorry to bother you, but…”

Starting conversations or requests with “Sorry to bother you, but…” pre-apologizes for taking up someone’s time, suggesting that our interaction is an unwelcome distraction.

While it’s meant to be polite, it can also imply that we believe our concerns or needs are inherently inconvenient to others.

Instead, consider framing your approach with confidence and respect for the other person’s time, such as “Do you have a moment?” or “I’d appreciate your input on something.”

This not only respects the value of both your time and theirs but also sets a more positive tone for the interaction.

It’s about finding the balance between being assertive and considerate, ensuring that our engagements are seen as mutually beneficial rather than bothersome.


As we wrap up this exploration of phrases to phase out of our vocabulary, it’s clear that the journey towards more refined and impactful communication is ongoing.

Each phrase we choose to let go of opens up space for more thoughtful, confident, and respectful exchanges. It’s not just about banishing certain words; it’s about embracing an approach to communication that reflects our best selves.

The goal isn’t to strip away our personality or become someone we’re not. It’s about fine-tuning our language to enhance our relationships, professional interactions, and self-expression.

As we become more mindful of the phrases we use, we not only elevate our own communication style but also contribute to a more thoughtful and considerate dialogue with those around us.

Let’s commit to this linguistic clean-up, not as a one-time effort but as a part of our ongoing personal and professional development.

By doing so, we not only become classier communicators but also more effective and empathetic ones. Here’s to speaking with intention, clarity, and a touch of class.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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