Reconsider Some Common Words and Phrases in Your Speech and Writing

Some verbs and phrasings we use when we communicate in business, in leadership roles and generally in our lives can have a subconscious (and maybe even conscious) affect on how people perceive what we say but perhaps even our overall character.

One such verb or phrase is “think” or “I think.”  This is an easy one to get rid of as it is a throw away phrase anyway. When speaking or writing it is somewhat redundant to make the statement; if it were anyone else’s thinking 99% of us would describe who the thinking belonged to. So, there is no need to say it in the first place. But why skip the “I think?” It is because it can come off as the speaker being uncertain or still going over things in their head. Plainly speaking your opinion and why others should consider it sounds stronger both in person and on the page.

“Need” is another word one might consider dropping in their phrasing. It may sound silly but when used by a leader when requesting something from subordinate it makes the leader or the one asking sound like they are dependent on that other person entirely.  If you are scoffing, consider that these are subtle, subconscious cues that don’t work on our active thinking. “Want” works in a similar way. “I want you to improve the quality of your work” versus “Please, improve the quality of your work” or even “Improve the quality of your work.” Notice the subtle difference in tone that shades the meaning of the statement in all three cases.

“Guess” is another one to watch out for—we all want to be heard as confident and sure. Using “guess” in your language does not accomplish that tonal goal. Likewise, “hope” can add a touch of uncertainty. Don’t hope for things, know that they will happen; make things a will to power over your goals, don’t hope.

Consider making some of these changes to your speech pattern and note if it changes the way people see you and your ideas.

 

 

 

Some Words to Subtract from Your Professional Lexicon

Any good writer will tell us that a single word can totally change the shade or tone of a sentence or passage. This is true of conversation as well. A single word can act on the subconscious of subordinates and peers alike and could change the level of confidence they have in your communication.

One of these words is “think” especially used in the phrase “I think.” But who doesn’t use the phrase “I think?” While it may sound as if you are taking possession of the idea with this short preface, but in reality when one says something like “I think I have a good idea” this will often lead the listener to believe that you are unsure of whether the idea is good or not, that you are still mulling it over.

In casual conversation, “I think I’ll have lunch with George,” it is essentially a throw away phrase. But you might want to drop this phrase from your professional lexicon.
Another trouble word is “need.” While it may seem to emphasis an obligation on the part of the subordinate or peer it can also come of as, well, needy. “I need this project finished by the due date” might make it sound as if you are dependent on the person or obligation.

Similar to “need” is “want” which can be taken as an emotional appeal rather than a statement of fact. “I want your reports to be of a higher quality” is not as definitive as “These reports need to be of a higher quality.” Or try “I want a raise because my work has been good” sounds emotional compared to “The quality of my work this year is worthy of a raise.”

Other words like “guess,” “hope,” and “suppose” all work in likewise fashions. Using “hope” can add an element of uncertainty or even doom. “Guess” and “suppose” both, again, could lend an element of uncertainty to an idea one is proposing.