What are your words saying indirectly?
Did you know that individuals will judge your level of confidence by your verbal behaviour or the way you speak?
I don’t mean your dialect or pronunciation here either, more the type of words you use and how you use them. Both of these things can determine how your confidence is judged.
While there is no such thing as right or wrong words there are some common words we use in conversation that put us at a disadvantage.
1 – Filler words
It seems to be a natural instinct to many people to throw in an “Um” or “Ah” as a filler whenever they are temporarily lost for words. This is perhaps most often seen when a person is delivering a presentation and indeed avoiding this temptation is one of the first skills that is taught as part of public speaking courses. But this is also worth considering in relation to other important conversations with clients and your team.
The reason for avoiding these ‘fillers’ is that they make you seem less confident, and they also can detract from the message you are trying to share.
Instead, take a brief pause when you are temporarily lost for words, take a breath or better still if you have a glass of water to hand take a drink. This will give you chance to settle the nerves and work out what you want to say next.
2 - Seeming incompetent
Other words that you should be cautious about using if you want people to take what you say seriously are “like”and “you know”. Overuse of these words can make you look silly, incompetent and unprofessional.
Also the word “actually” has become the new“basically” or “literally.” All of which again can make you look incompetent. Indeed experts say that many people use it even where it doesn’t stylistically make sense. For example, the phrase “but actually” is terribly misused and is often unnecessary which can make you seem uninformed.
3 – Appearing to lack confidence
One of the most commonly used words in the English language is “sorry” and most of the time this is used unnecessarily inconversations. For example, in sentences like, “Sorry to ask but…” for example can be misinterpreted to mean you’re not confident in making the request of the person you are asking. Drop the“sorry” and say what you mean confidently. Also, the use of the word “if” can also convey a lack of confidence so be careful of using this with both potential customers and employees. For example rather than saying “if you would like some help” to a potential customer use “to get our help…”.
4 – Creating ambiguity in what you are saying
The words “kind of” or “sort of” used in conversations can make you come across as vague and your message ambiguous. Use of these words suggest that you are not sure what’s going on or that you are afraid of committing.
5 – Sounding unreliable
On many occasions when I am coaching someone they will say things like “hopefully” in conversations. Sentences like “I’ll hopefully get [something] done” and for me that is a warning sign. Use of the words “hopefully”, “possibly”,“maybe” or “try” suggest that you do not feel confident, which for customers, potential customers and employees it could also communicate that you are unreliable.
So the next time you are having a conversation with a customer, potential new customer or one of your team be a little more aware of the words that you are using.
That way you are more likely to only be communicating the messages you want in the way that you want.
To get our help or advice about how to speak to employees, just get in touch.