Words give us the power to express ourselves and communicate with others. Our word choice reflects how we want to be perceived by the people we talk to whether they are loved ones, colleagues, or strangers we meet. So, if you want to sound confident and move people with your thoughts, you need to avoid using these words and find better alternatives: 

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“Just”

This word can mean two extremes: either you’re way too shy or too authoritative when addressing your concerns. Of course, it’s best to sound like neither so refrain from using the term. For example, the shy type would say “I just wanted to follow up” and it gives off the impression that you’re afraid to get feedback when you shouldn’t be. 

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Meanwhile, the authoritative type would say “Just follow up” and that makes you sound demanding and not easy to work with. As much as you want to be confident, you don’t want to come across as arrogant and unfriendly. Drop “just” and replace it with refined terms like “kindly” or “please”. 

“Um” or “Uh”

Now these are filler words often uttered when you’ve lost your train of thought. Using the words “um” or “uh” can affect our way of communicating and make listeners feel less engaged in the conversation. Instead of these fillers, give yourself two-second pauses to regroup and continue with “Let’s say”, “You see”, “However”, or “Another thing to consider is” for a smooth transition. 

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“Maybe”

It’s not a good word if you want to sound convincing. Try not saying “maybe” and you’ll notice how your statements become straightforward and clear. Another example is when you’re asked a yes-no question. Replying “maybe” sounds neutral and won’t get things done. If you’re on the affirmative side, don’t hesitate to say “yes” or other assuring terms like “definitely”, “certainly”, and “absolutely”. It’s also okay to say “No, thank you” or “Sorry, I won’t be able to” if you want to decline. Making a clear decision is also a sign of respect to the person asking. 

“Like”

We’re all guilty of this filler word! It’s acceptable to use if you’re a teen or teen at heart rambling to your friends. But if you’re in the workplace and your boss wants you to explain important matters, avoid the use of “like” and make concise statements instead. You’ll sound more credible, plus, you’re giving the impression that you value everyone’s time by cutting to the chase. 

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“Actually”

Using “actually” can make you sound unsure, therefore, less believable. You don’t want to give that impression when conversing with potential employers or clients. If you can’t answer their questions, politely say “Let me get back to you later” instead of making unsure claims. This will buy you time to review their questions and provide them with credible answers.  

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