Career Advice

8 Words or Phrases to Avoid When You’re Trying to Project Confidence

Let’s get straight and to the point: words matter. A LOT. And they’re especially important in a professional context. Word choice can be the difference between getting your opinion brushed aside or having someone take your opinion seriously. If you would like it to be the latter (which you obviously should), it’s time for a quick check-up on your office vocab.

We spoke with Joel Garfinkle, Executive Coach and Author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level to get his opinions on what words to avoid—and what words to use—in order to project confidence and capability.

Glassdoor: What’s the #1 word people need to remove from their vocabulary to come across as confident and capable?

Joel Garfinkle: There isn’t one specific word people should eliminate from their vocabulary, to appear more confident, but rather one set of words – filler words. Filler words, including Umm,” “Uh” and “Like” indicate you’re not exactly sure what word you’re going to say next, which makes you sound less confident.

Glassdoor: What do you see as the ‘weakest’ words to use in a professional context?

Joel Garfinkle: “Usually” and “Often” are the weakest words in a professional context. It tells the listener you’re not certain what you’re saying is true and, in fact, are hedging your bet, just in case you’re wrong.

Glassdoor: What phrase or words are so overused they’ve lost their ‘power’?

Joel Garfinkle: Phrases like “State of the art” and “Cutting-edge” used to be reserved for truly groundbreaking innovation. Today, these terms are used so often in marketing copy they’ve completely lost their impact.

Glassdoor: What’s the #1 word people should add to their vocabulary to project confidence?

Joel Garfinkle: If you want to project confidence, use the word “Definitely.” This way the person you’re communicating with knows you are 100% certain in your statement.

Glassdoor: What other advice would you give employees looking to succeed?

Joel Garfinkle: The art of being a confident communicator begins with listening. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, truly listen to what the other person is saying, take a moment to consider their ideas and then formulate a clear and confident response.

Be assertive in your actions and decisive in your decision-making. This will present you as a powerful, polished and confident person.