Words have power. The words you choose can either bring strength to your communication or dilute it, removing power and lessening the impact. Very often we choose, either deliberately or subconsciously, words that undermine our own messaging as a way to be “polite” or “less threatening.” Instead, we end up being taken less seriously, or worse, ignored.
It wasn’t until I made this TikTok video that I realized how pervasive this practice is and how many of us, especially women, needed to hear this advice. I received hundreds of comments thanking me and asking for more! Make no mistake, I do these things too and have to stop myself every time. Let’s start this journey together by removing these four phrases from our future professional communications.
I Hope That
I don’t mean “I hope that you had a good weekend.” I mean remove “I hope” when you are making a recommendation or expressing an idea. “I hope we can implement this change,” for example. Instead, say “I’m confident that,” or “I suggest that we implement this change.”
Using the word “just” is not necessary in most cases. Just is a filler word and dilutes the power and meaning of your communication. Your statements will be clearer if you remove it and they will also come across with more authority.
For example: “I just think we should do xyz” can be changed to “I think we should do xyz.” It’s all too easy to dismiss an idea with the word “just” in front of it.
I Would Love
“I would love to get together and discuss” doesn’t have as much power as “I recommend we get together and discuss.” Remove “I would love” from professional communications and save it for friends and family.
I’m Sorry to Bother You
Please don’t say this ever again in a professional setting. We are all doing our jobs, so asking for input, feedback or a response is not bothering your coworker or even your supervisor, especially if they haven’t responded to your requests for information or help. Please remove this immediately and instead say “When is a good time to discuss” or “When can I expect your thoughts?”
Women, let’s stop apologizing for taking part in discussions, showing leadership and having opinions. Instead improve your communications by removing these four phrases. It’s an easy fix and will make your ideas clearer and stronger.
Lead on – you’ve got this!
What did I miss? Are there other phrases we use that are undermining our own authority? Let me know in the comments.