Common Words That Can Make You Sound Less Confident When Speaking
I remember being on a Peter Thompson course where he brought my attention to the fact that most people, when they speak naturally, have got into bad habits using what’s called ‘fillers’. Here’s some of the most common. How many do you use on a daily basis?
We often use ‘fillers’ because we are a bit lost for words, are unprepared, or we don’t know what we are going to say next as our thinking isn’t as clear as it could be. But apparently these ‘fillers’ (unconsciously and sometimes consciously) suggest to the listener that we don’t know what we’re talking about and can even make us sound a bit dumb. The consensus is ‘fillers’ make us sound less than confident. We’re talking about words like “Um”, “Ah” “err”. Confident speakers tend not to use ‘fillers or if they do, they use them infrequently. The solution; make sure you know what you are talking about, consider rehearsing what you want to say when going to speak in front of a group or people when it’s important they listen to what you have to say. If you get nervous or forget what you wanted to say, stop, take a breath, a suitable short pause, gather your thoughts then continue speaking.
Another bad habit and common filler is: ‘you know’. Actually most of the time we don’t know! This word, along with ‘like’ are called crutch words. If you want to be taken seriously or have people listen to you try to notice when you use them and then reduce, or if possible, eliminate them.
Using ‘just’ in front of another word, or in a sentence, weakens and waters down your requests. It’s a softener and as such could make the listener unconsciously think you don’t know what you want. Do your best to drop ‘just’ and start talking as if you know what you want. Again it’s worth practising what you want to say beforehand, so you can come across as confident when making a request or sharing information.
Another to avoid is ‘hopefully’. When I was younger and had just landed a job as Manager my internal confidence was low so I was always hopeful things would turn out ok and often voiced that word. I remember in one team meeting when planning a big event, the scary boss from hell was present, as I shared my vision of how my team would contribute to the event, I said “hopefully, blah blah”. “Hopefully?” she said, “there’d better be more than hope!” She was of course right and I dropped that word from my business vocabulary immediately. I started to realise it made me sound weak, unreliable and as if I had no control over the outcome or situation. Sure sometimes I didn’t but I learnt I needed to keep that to myself (verbally) and find ways to make things happen, come up with solutions, even if inside I wasn’t sure or was ‘hopeful’.
The last one I want to bring your attention to for now is ‘sorry’!! For what? It’s an overused word that has nothing to do with an apology and again sounds weak and lacking in confidence. My gorgeous daughter recently realised that she used it too often. After a bit of coaching, she decided to drop it as it really did make her sound unconfident, and she’s not. Solution: Say sorry when you’ve got something to apologise for and mean it.
The more you practise noticing others language, the more it could help you notice yours, and when you do – do something about changing it. Step into confidence physically and linguistically. Let me know how you get on.
Pam Lidford is a coach and trainer and is here to help you with any personal or professional development goals you may want to work on.
Pam Lidford / Confidence Coach
firstname.lastname@example.org / 07703 271261