Do you ever find yourself talking to people and secretly wondering, “Do I sound confident?”
It turns out that our choice of words plays a significant role in how we come across to others.
Whether it’s in a job interview, a team meeting, or casual chats with acquaintances, certain words and phrases can (unintentionally) reveal our lack of self-confidence.
In this article, we’ll explore 10 of these words and phrases
Recognizing these verbal cues will help you figure out what’s holding you back so you can work on your communication skills and boost your self-esteem.
Let’s get right to it:
1) “Um” and “Uh”
Picture this: You’re in the middle of a presentation at work and every other sentence contains “Um” and “Uh.”
Filler words are literally there to fill in a pause when you’re hesitant or not sure what you’re going to say next.
They also suggest a lack of confidence in your ability to articulate your thoughts and ideas.
And guess what – using fillers makes you appear uncertain and unprepared.
Sure, we all use them from time to time, but overdoing it can undermine your credibility.
So, what can you do?
Slow down your speech, and practice taking deliberate pauses.
Not only will this help you reduce filler words but it will give you a chance to gather your thoughts and speak more confidently.
2) “I think” and “I believe”
How many times have you caught yourself saying, “I think this might work” instead of confidently stating, “This will work”?
Using “I think” and “I believe” before expressing an opinion can make you seem unsure of your own thoughts.
While I get that you may not want to appear overly confident – especially if you’re not 100% sure about something – a consistent use of these expressions makes it look like you lack confidence in what you’re saying, which might not be the case.
What’s the solution?
Strike a balance! Use “I think” or “I believe” when you genuinely want to convey your viewpoint as a personal opinion, but also don’t hesitate to assert your ideas confidently when you have a strong position on a matter.
Instead of saying, “I think this plan could work,” confidently state, “This plan can work.”
Trust me, by asserting your ideas with conviction, you’ll convey self-assuredness and increase your credibility in discussions and decision-making situations.
3) “Sorry” (When it’s not necessary)
Do you apologize constantly, even when you haven’t done anything wrong?
Well, I hate to break it to you but over-apologizing is a common habit among people who lack self-confidence.
You see, it makes you appear weak and unsure of yourself.
While genuine apologies are essential when you’ve made a mistake or caused harm, they shouldn’t be your default response.
If you want to appear more confident:
- Reserve apologies for when they’re genuinely needed.
- Don’t be afraid to stand your ground and say what you think.
- Practice being assertive without apologizing for your opinions, requests, or preferences.
4) “I’m not sure” and “I don’t know”
Look, admitting uncertainty is fine, but always saying, “I’m not sure” and “I don’t know” is sure to make others question your competence.
Replace it with proactive language like, “I’ll find out” or “Let me check.”
This implies a proactive attitude and shows that you’re confident in your ability to obtain information or solve problems, even when you don’t have all the answers right away.
Your response better not be “I’m not sure”!
5) “Maybe” and “Perhaps”
Here’s the thing, when you use words like “maybe” and “perhaps” you seem wishy-washy.
Such words make you seem indecisive and lacking in self-confidence.
But don’t worry, there is a solution. If you want to appear confident, replace them with clear, assertive statements.
Instead of saying, “Maybe we can meet next week…” say, “Let’s meet up next week.”
Confident people are decisive and assertive.
6) “I’m not good at this” and “I can’t do it”
The truth is that persistent self-deprecation will destroy your self-confidence.
You see, when you constantly belittle your abilities and underestimate your potential, you’re reinforcing negative self-perceptions.
What’s more, you’re revealing your lack of confidence to the world.
Here’s what you should do:
Instead of saying, “I’m not good at this,” and “I can’t do it”, try a more growth-oriented approach like, “I’m still learning” and “I’ll give it my best shot.”
Believe in your potential to improve and succeed!
7) “It’s not a big deal” and “I don’t mind”
Constantly downplaying your own desires, preferences, or concerns indicates a lack of self-confidence.
Why would you say, “It’s not a big deal” when it is?
Or why would you tell someone, “I don’t mind” when you clearly do?
This is bound to lead to unmet needs and dissatisfaction.
That’s why it’s really important to communicate your preferences and boundaries assertively while, of course, remembering to be considerate of other people’s feelings.
State your wants and needs without minimizing them.
For example, say, “I’d prefer to have a vegetarian option” instead of, “I don’t mind what we eat.”
8) “I should have done better” and “I should be more like…”
The word “should” carries a sense of obligation and self-criticism.
Phrases such as, “I should have done better” reflect unrealistic expectations, while “I should be more like…” show a tendency to compare yourself to other people.
While the desire for self-improvement is admirable, constantly berating yourself with “should” statements is terrible for your self-confidence.
That’s why you need to replace “should” with more constructive language, such as “I want to improve” or “I will strive to be more like…”
This shift acknowledges your aspirations while emphasizing a positive and proactive approach to self-development.
9) “I’ll try” and “I’ll give it a shot”
Using tentative language like “I’ll try” and “I’ll give it a shot” indicates a lack of commitment and confidence in your abilities.
While it’s important to be realistic about your capabilities, using these phrases excessively suggests a fear of failure.
Swap them for more confident expressions.
Express your commitment and confidence by saying, “I will” or “I am determined to.”
10) “What do you want?” and “It’s up to you”
Why can’t you just say what you want? Why won’t you make the decision?
I’ll tell you why – because you lack self-confidence.
Constantly deferring to others’ choices and preferences shows a lack of self-confidence and assertiveness.
And yes, people are bound to appreciate the fact that you’re accommodating, but you don’t want to seem like a pushover. It’s really important to have a voice and to be able to express your opinions.
Take part in the decision-making process and say what’s on your mind. Instead of asking, “What do you want?” say, “I’d like to hear your thoughts, but here’s what I think.”
The bottom line
Language is a powerful tool that says a lot about who we are.
It reflects our inner thoughts, feelings, and levels of self-confidence.
By paying attention to the words and phrases we use in our daily interactions, we can change how people see us.
While it’s normal to use some of the words and phrases mentioned in this article occasionally, being mindful of their frequency and adjusting our language can help us project greater self-confidence.
By taking steps to improve our communication skills and choosing language that reflects confidence and assertiveness, we can enhance our self-esteem and create more positive interactions in our personal and professional lives.