(This post about lack of confidence was originally written for Inc.com where it has received over 350k views.)
I'm not sure if you have the time to read this article, and I'm sorry if it's taking you away from something more important. Really, I hate to bother you–it's just that I think I have something kind of important to tell you. Is that OK?
…said the author with no confidence whatsoever.
If you want others to believe in you, you must believe in your own value and act in a way that conveys confidence. The words you choose will help you to exude confidence–or make you look weak making it apparent that you have a lack of confidence. Never underestimate the power of words.
Here are seven phrases to avoid, especially in the work environment. As you weed them out of your vocabulary, in spoken and written form, you will notice a visible change in how people perceive you. You will also notice a change in how you feel about yourself as your level of confidence grows.
1. I hate to bother you, but…
You don't really hate to bother someone when something is important enough that it can't wait. What you hate is your discomfort about voicing whatever it is that you have to say and the response that you'll receive.
This phrase puts the other person in complete control; it gives away your power. If you are uncertain about your timing simply say something like: “When you have a minute, I would like to discuss something with you.”
2. I'm sorry.
Strong, confident people are willing to admit when they are wrong, or when an apology is in order. Those with a lack of confidence use the words “I'm sorry” when they have feelings of inferiority. Count the times you apologize for something throughout your day. Are you truly sorry? Did you do something wrong? In most cases, no, you did not. Before using these words, stop to consider if they are necessary.
3. I'm worried.
People who are not confident use these words simply because they worry too much. Expressing worry demonstrates that you fear a negative outcome and that you may be over-thinking it. It says that you do not look for solutions but instead focus on the problem.
Think it through before telling someone that you're worried. If the situation merits concern, then say, “I have some concern that…” Save the worry for the real problems in life. Better yet, don't worry at all; it only serves to create negative fantasies that may never occur.
4. I'll do it.
Successful people step up and pitch in. However, when your lack of confidence and need for approval leads you to volunteer for everything from making the coffee to running an errand, you designate yourself as the low person on the totem pole. Be a team player, but don't jump at every chance to take care of the minutia.
5. I just…
Each time you use this filler, it diminishes what you think and say.
“I just need a minute of your time.”
“I just thought…”
“It's just an idea, but…”
If you have a suggestion, idea, or concern then state it with confidence, rather than diminish it (and yourself).
6. If it's OK, would you mind…
Asking permission to make a request of someone immediately reduces the importance of whatever it is you are asking. It also opens the door for them to think or say, “No, it's not OK,” or “Yes, I do mind.” Be authoritative when you make a reasonable request, even if you're speaking to the boss. Don't use an inferior tone to suggest that you are begging for assistance. Simply begin by saying something like: “Mary, when you have a moment, please…”
7. I believe/think/feel that…
These are filler words that zap your conviction around a topic or opinion. Like the word “just” (notice that you may use these words together: “I just feel that…”) they diminish the importance of your statement.
Simply remove these fillers. Notice the difference between these two examples:
“I just feel like this is an important problem for us to explore.”
“This is an important problem for us to explore.”
What phrases reduce your view of someone's confidence? Share your thoughts here.