10 phrases truly confident people don’t use (too much)

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Can you fake confidence?

The truth is, lots of people use the trick of "faking it" til they make it when it comes to confidence.

Confidence is an attitude that has nothing to do with whether or not the person can back it up. Loads of people who seem confident can't deliver, and lots of hard workers and great producers lack confidence.

If you find you lack confidence, one of the easiest ways to start building it is to practice using confident language. The way we speak can give away how we feel — about ourselves, the situation, and our abilities. Speaking more confidently can actually make you feel more confident as well.

Here are some phrases that indicate to someone that you are not too confident. Let's be clear, I am not saying that you want to eliminate all these phrases from your vocabulary – there are many good reasons why you want to use them in situations where you are not sure or where you want to seek someone's opinion or input.

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However, if you use these phrases often and routinely it signals to others that you are not confident. When you find yourself in a situation where you want to demonstrate confidence, aim to avoid these.

"I think"

First, this phrase is often unnecessary (of course it's what you think!), and second, you are diminishing the value of your own statement — you're making the statement an opinion, which holds less weight than if you state it as a fact.

"Well" "Um" "Er…"

Starting with a verbal tic like well, um, er, so, or similar also diminishes the confidence of the statement. In general, try to whittle a statement down to only the most important parts. For example, which sounds more confident: "Well, I think we should change direction on this project," or "We should change direction on this project"? Clearly the latter.


"Just" is another one of those verbal tics that we get into the habit of using, but it has little or no meaning. It also makes the following sentence or request seem smaller, more trivial. If you're "just checking in" or "just wanting to ask a question," you don't want to bother the other person, which can come across as timid.


Confident people don't hope they'll be able to accomplish something; they know they either will, or they won't. These kinds of adverbs make you sound wishy-washy and uncertain about your own abilities. Do, or do not. There is no "hopefully."


Actually is another one of these adverbs, but instead of sounding vague, it sounds as though you're trying to interrupt or correct someone without being rude. I'm all for manners, but if you need to correct someone, do so without hedging. You will be seem more confident and the nature of the correction will be clearer.

"Kind of" "Sort of"

"Kind of" and "sort of" are the worst type of ambiguous language to sprinkle into conversation. Is it or isn't it? Even adding qualifiers like large, small, major, minor, important, or unimportant is more useful than saying something was "kind of" something else.


Many people are in the habit of apologising constantly for things they have no need to be sorry for. Modern usage of the word has taken it from an apology to another piece of verbal flotsam that has little or no meaning. Try to reserve this for times when you truly have something to apologise for.

"Isn't it?" "Aren't they?" "Could you?"

Added onto the end of an otherwise perfectly serviceable sentence, these tag questions are often used (subconsciously) to soften the impact of a statement. Even without an actual question, many people get into the bad habit of turning their voices up at the end of a statement, making it sound like a question. The result is that they sound timid, uncertain, and always looking for approval or for someone else to make the decision. If you find this is a habit you've fallen into, practice making declarative statements, rather than turning everything into a question.

"I'll try"

Confident people don't try. I mean, they do, but they aim to succeed, not simply try. Saying that you'll "try" to do something implies that you're lowering expectations — you don't want the listener to get too excited and think you'll actually succeed. Which means that you have no confidence in your ability to succeed (or that you're not putting in a full effort).

"I can't"

There's really no reason to ever say "I can't." Either you're actually saying "I won't," or "I don't want to" — or if you actually cannot do something, there's a more precise way to say so, as in, "I have a previous engagement," or "I don't have the skills to accomplish that." Saying "I can't" is just a cop out.

Instead, replace these phrases with words like: I will, I can, I have decided, etc.

Barnard Marr is a Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Leading Business and Data Expert. His free eBook, "Big Data in Practice," is out now.

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