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vocabulary, confidence, & setting a positive vibe

May 22, 2020

Language is a powerful thing, and the way we use it can have a major impact on the way we associate with others. When it comes to forming productive and beneficial relationships, the way we use our language is especially important. Words, tone of voice, inflections, and even the rhythm of a person’s speech are an important part of conversation that can evoke confidence, express sadness, betray fear, and so much more. It can open doors or push people away, and it can even have a profound impact on our own thoughts and emotions.

I’ve often heard people expressing their own self-doubt as a matter of habit. When people say things like “I think,” when they’re unsure of what they’re about to say, or when people use self-deprecating humor about themselves are two examples of this. It’s often a defense mechanism, a way of avoiding perceived confrontation or the implications of having one’s ideas shut down. The problem is this kind of vocabulary doesn’t really shield us in the way we might like. In reality, it projects the very lack of confidence we’re trying to hide.

Creating A Confident Vocabulary

Be on the lookout for words and phrases that evoke fear or lack of confidence. These include words like:

Preemptive Qualifiers – Beginning sentences with words and phrases like “Just,…” “What if,…,” or “I’m not sure, but,…,” are indicators of hesitancy.

Overkindness – Excessive use of words like “thanks,” “you’re welcome,” or other over-expressive comments like “that’s so great!” or “I love it!” is often due to worries over how kindly our comments will be perceived, which in turn is often seen as ungenuine.

Self Deprecations – Comments or jokes at one’s own expense are often meant to put down one’s ego before others get the chance. In reality, it often kills the positive and constructive influence you could be contributing.

Claiming Incapacity – Claiming you “can’t” do something when in reality you “won’t” do something. “Can’t” conveys a lack of skill which is often used to cover up the fear of failure.

Second-Guessing Questions – Asking “does that make sense?” or “don’t you think?” in the middle of a conversation can make you seem unsure of yourself and your ideas.

Phasing out confidence-killing vocabulary is a great place to start, and should be followed by replacing it with more direct and assertive language. Convey your competency with phrases like “I can…” “I will…” and “We should…” when sharing your ideas. This communicates that you’re more sure of yourself and that others can be sure of you as well. Also, try to use active and confident sentence structures. Saying “The path forward will be challenging, but we can do it.” sounds better than, “I think the path forward may be challenging, but let’s give it a try.”

Learning to speak with confidence projects a stronger and more uplifting version of ourselves. It can make us better communicators, forge stronger bonds, and ultimately enable our own self-confidence to grow within ourselves.


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