As humans, we tend to fear what we don’t know.
And confident people? Well, they sometimes fall into this category.
We might be intimidated by their unwavering self-belief, their superhuman abilities, and their otherworldly swagger.
But I’m here to tell you that even the most confident person in the room isn’t perfect.
In fact, real, unadulterated, confidence is pretty hard to come by.
A lot of people can stick their chest out and fake confidence, but for it to be genuine, it has to come from deep within.
It has to be embedded within your mind, body, and soul.
In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the phrases one might use when one lacks genuine confidence.
So if you want to project true self-assuredness, you’re better off avoiding these expressions.
Let’s dive in!
1) “I’m not sure, but…” or “I could be wrong, but…”
Confident people don’t often add disclaimers before making a declarative statement or expressing an opinion or idea.
They don’t beat around the bush, and hint at uncertainty or a lack of belief in their thoughts.
They just come straight out with it.
They instinctively know that self-doubt isn’t a great look–and one that could take away from the value of what they’re trying to impart.
So rather than preempt themselves for possibly being wrong, they just say what they want to say.
If they’re wrong, they’ll rectify it later. It’s as simple as that.
2) “I’m sorry, but…”
Over-apologizing is a telltale sign of insecurity and a lack of confidence–and for good reason.
You see, many insecure people fear that their statements can somehow cause offense or be wrongfully misconstrued, and therefore, almost instinctively, they get apprehensive and apologetic.
But apologizing when you don’t have to screams inferiority, and wanting to make yourself smaller and more meek–the opposite of true confidence.
In fact, by saying one too many ‘sorry’s’ this often backfires, and causes irritation in the other party, particularly when there was nothing to be sorry for to begin with.
I’ll admit, when I was a fledging, young man new to the world of employment, I was a bit of a serial overapologizer.
When I wanted to ask a fair question or ask for help from a superior or a colleague, I’d almost always precede it with “sorry, but…”
Or sometimes, I’d open perfectly relevant emails with “sorry to bother you, but…”
I was too young, too naive, to realize how uncertain and, well, unconfident my ‘sorry’s’ made me appear to my co-workers and bosses.
Remember, there’s nothing inherently wrong with apologizing–in fact, the ability to say ‘sorry’ now and then is critical to any relationship.
But when done to excess, your lack of confidence makes itself resoundingly heard.
Not a great look.
3) “Just” or “only”
Being a bit of a wordsmith, I’ve always been fascinated by how a single word can change the whole sentiment and message of a particular statement.
Using words like “just” or “only” can often subconsciously convey vulnerability to others.
By using these words often, you’re sort of downplaying your achievements or opinions–such as when one says “I just thought that…” or “It’s only a basic idea, but…”
In some ways, you’re setting yourself up for scrutiny.
Be bold, be confident, and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.
Select words that uplift and inspire rather than devalue.
4) “Maybe this is a dumb question, but…”
This one is especially common among newbies at a job.
They’re still actively learning the ropes, and getting a feel for the swing of things, so, understandably, they may not memorize the employee handbook word for word.
The truth is, when it comes to a job, there are very few “dumb” or “stupid” questions if those inquiries help you accomplish your tasks more efficiently.
Your boss or colleagues don’t expect you to have the technical know-how of a twenty-year veteran, so when it comes to questions, fire away!
And don’t feel the need to precede legitimate questions with “maybe this is a dumb question,” because doing so reveals an inherent insecurity and fear of being seen as incompetent–which you aren’t.
You’re better than that, and you know it.
5) “I don’t know if this makes sense, but…”
Once again, you don’t want to communicate incompetence and doubt about your inner thoughts to others, regardless of the situation.
Don’t give them that.
You don’t want to be the butt of jokes, you don’t want to be the bumbling employee, clueless as to how to get the job done.
If you want respect, you need to express confidence.
Occasionally, when I’m with friends or colleagues, I’ll be uncertain about my ideas on a particular topic, but rather than provide a disclaimer, I’ll just articulate my thoughts as best I can.
Sometimes, those ideas are well-received and get praised; other times, they’re ignored.
Either way, confidence always wins. And self-doubt doesn’t.
The distinction is vast.
6) “I’m probably not the best person to ask, but…”
Even if you aren’t the most skilled or qualified person at a certain subject, by immediately taking a passive stance, you’re communicating a lack of confidence… and a bit of lethargy too.
You may not have all the answers, but what you can be is assertive.
And trust me, when you’re assertive, words will spread quickly.
You can point them in the right direction, by recommending who to talk to, or what resources to tap.
Not only will the person asking appreciate you and your efforts, but you’ll build confidence in yourself as well.
7) “I’ll try…”
I personally detest hearing the words “I’ll try…”
Why you ask? Because, ironically, much of the time, “I’ll try” is code for “I won’t try.”
By not fully committing to an answer, you’re giving the other person false hope, and creating unrealistic expectations.
You’re conveying a hesitancy and a lack of belief and will to accomplish something or be somewhere.
This non-committal way of going about things will only eventually build resentment in those around you.
Rather than dealing with the discomfort of saying ‘no’, and dealing with the ensuing reactions, blurting out “I’ll try” is a cop-out–one that can be exceptionally misleading.
Confident people can face the music that comes with an unfavorable reaction; this is part of life…
Moral of the story? Don’t say “I’ll try” when you really won’t. People will respect your forthrightness.
Although most experts agree that the majority of our in-person communications are through body language, the everyday phrases we choose to verbally impart hold a ton of weight too.
If you lack confidence, not all is lost.
A great place to start is by changing your speaking habits.
Once you start talking more confidently, and drop the passivity, you’ll notice some palpable changes in yourself–and how others see you too.
Take baby steps. Take things a day at a time.
With just a bit of dedication, you’ll get where you want to be soon enough. You got this.
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