Expressing your opinion is very important if you want people to hear you. However, many phrases simply make you sound less confident.
Most of us use these everyday phrases without a second thought, but they can incredibly undermine us and make us sound less confident, ambiguous, or even stupid.
Just as a subtle shift in tone can change the meaning of a sentence, small tweaks to our language can profoundly affect how others perceive us.
So let’s find out what phrases you should avoid to sound more confident and effectively express your ideas.
1) “I think”
Ah, the quintessential “I think” phrase. Saying this out loud will make anything you say afterward easily dismissable simply because you sound insecure.
You probably never thought about it, and your subconscious believes it sounds okay to say it, but it’s not.
Why not just say what you think directly without saying the “I think” part out loud?
Let’s move on to a similar phrase you might be saying that diminishes you.
2) “I’m not sure, but…”
Do you use the “I’m not sure, but…” phrase in your daily communication with others? I know I’ve caught myself saying it many times. Just like “I think,” it’s hard to stop saying it.
Many times it just comes out of your mouth before you’ve even realized it.
Try using “In my experience/opinion…” instead. This will demonstrate your confidence in sharing your perspective based on your knowledge or expertise.
And if you don’t know the answer, say that you’ll find the answer or gather more information before providing a response.
3) “I’m no expert, but…”
Talking of expertise, this next phrase is also a common one. Straightaway, it diminishes your credibility and makes you appear less confident.
If you’re not an expert on the topic at hand, focus on sharing what you know and provide your insights with conviction.
Or, here’s another idea:
Use “I have a unique perspective/view” to emphasize that you have a unique viewpoint or a fresh approach to a problem or situation and showcase your confidence in your ideas and insights.
4) “This might be a stupid question, but…”
Oh, boy. How many times have you heard or used this one? As soon as people hear the word stupid come out of your mouth, there’s no way they aren’t thinking that about you.
Asking questions is perfectly fine and acceptable, and you shouldn’t apologize for it.
This self-deprecating phrase diminishes your confidence and can undermine the perception of your intelligence.
Instead, ask your questions directly without prefacing them with negative qualifiers. Or just say, “I have a question about…”
Let’s move on to a similar yet popular phrase.
5) ”I’m not the best at this, but…”
Another phrase that downplays your abilities out of the gate. It clearly weakens your confidence and makes others doubt your competence.
I recommend reframing your statement in a more confident and positive light.
Using “In my experience” or “From my understanding…” is better than saying that you aren’t the best at something.
6) “I guess so”
“I guess so” is a three-word answer we often give to any questions we aren’t sure about. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve used it, I wouldn’t have to be writing this article!
All jokes aside, saying “I guess so” represents our indecisiveness and uncertainty in front of the speaker, whoever they might be.
After reading this, you’ll notice just how often people use it. And it will make you cringe.
So what should you say or use instead? Give a clear and confident response, offer alternative solutions, or start your thought with “I understand that….”
7) “Sorry, but…”
Well, hopefully, you’ve made it this far because the more I write about this topic, the more I cringe.
I often use “Sorry, but…” when I don’t want to offend someone with my thoughts or words. I might disagree with them or think that what they’re about to do is incredibly stupid.
However, apologizing unnecessarily does undermine our confidence. Unless you’ve made a mistake or need to apologize, avoid starting your statements with “sorry.”
8) “I may be overreacting, but…”
Another phrase that makes us sound less confident. It also suggests a lack of conviction and can make others question our judgment.
Again, I recommend expressing your concerns or opinions directly without undermining yourself.
Here’s what you can use instead:
- “I have some concerns, and here’s why…”
- “I’d like to discuss this issue because…”
- “I feel strongly about this, and here’s why…”
- “I’d like to express my perspective, even if it may differ…”
9) “I’m not the right person to ask”
We can’t be experts in everything, right? And we need to be self-aware of this fact, too. But we’re not doing ourselves any favors when we dismiss our own abilities too quickly.
While it’s honest to admit when you don’t have the answer, offering assistance or directing the person to someone who might know is more confident.
Use “Although it’s not my area of expertise, I can certainly help you with…” or “I may not have all the details, but I can point you in the right direction regarding….”
10) “I’m sorry for bothering you”
Being able to apologize when you’re wrong or did something that wasn’t right is a commendable trait.
On the other side, saying sorry too often or in situations when it isn’t needed implies a lack of confidence.
What you should do instead when you’re approaching someone is to respectfully approach them with your requests or ideas without unnecessary apologies.
Or try saying, “I understand you’re busy, but…” or “I’m interested in your thoughts on this matter and….”
11) “Let’s give it a try”
“Let’s give it a try” and “Let’s give it a shot” are the famous last words for many people.
Apart from that, they communicate negative expectations about the outcome and diminish your confidence.
Use alternative phrases that communicate confidence, optimism, and a proactive mindset to sound more confident. Here are just a few of them:
- “I’m confident we can make this work”
- “I’m eager to see the positive outcome”
- “I’m optimistic about our chances”
- “I have faith in our team’s capabilities”
That sounds much better, doesn’t it? OK, let’s see what else is in store.
12) “I’m just lucky”
If there ever was a phrase that downplayed our abilities and achievements in a major way, it was the “I’m just lucky” phrase.
Luck might have some role in your success, like being in the right place at the right time, but I’m confident that when people say this expression, they themselves don’t even believe in it.
They may be just humble and not ready to show off. I’m certainly one person that’s known for downplaying my successes.
Nevertheless, next time when you’re getting ready to play the “I’m just lucky” card, remind yourself and others about the hard work you’ve put in and acknowledge it out loud.
You never know, but you might just motivate and inspire them to work hard too.
13) “It’s not a big deal”
Similarly to the last phrase, saying “It’s not a big deal” sends people all the wrong signals.
Instead of downplaying the significance of a situation or your own achievements by saying this, consider using these alternative phrases:
- “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished”
- “I’m grateful for this opportunity/experience”
- “I’m excited about the possibilities this brings”
- “I’m honored to be part of this”
Okay, hang tight, we have two more to go.
14) “To be honest…”
To be honest, this is a phrase I often use in my articles. I love how it connects paragraphs, but it has its own issues.
For one, it can inadvertently imply that I’m not always honest. It can also signal that my forthcoming statement is somehow exceptional in that regard.
Yet again, it’s far better to speak clearly and directly. Or use “In my opinion,” “Allow me to share,” or “Let me be direct.”
15) “It’s only my opinion, but…”
And lastly, saying, “It’s only my opinion, but…” is a phrase that also makes us sound less confident.
It tells others that our opinion doesn’t matter that much. It also sounds too humble, which makes us look weak in certain situations.
I recommend using “From my standpoint…,” “Personally, I believe…,” or “I would argue that….”
Well, there you have it. 15 phrases to avoid if you want to sound more confident.
If you think you’re already quite confident, why not see if you’re too confident and are actually intimidating others?
Or go find out what things confident people always do (but never talk about).