Words You Must Avoid if You Want to Be More Confident

Fri Jun 22, 2018

The words we use has a huge impact on how we feel and what we experience daily.

If we use more positive words, whether it’s in written form or spoken, we’ll be more optimistic, cheerful and confident. If we use more negative words, we’ll be more pessimistic, focused on what’s going wrong and not be as self-assured or self-confident as we’d like to be.

As a result of our early programming and the external environments we’re exposed to, most people know and use more negative words instead of positive words.

It’s a matter of perspective whether using positive words is better than using negative words and the context in which they’re used, however it’s useful to know the effect the words we use are having on us and those we interact with.

Certain words we use regularly may cause us to have low confidence, therefore it’s valuable to know what they are so we can consciously choose to use more empowering words.

Many years ago in my manufacturing career, I had just started a new role as a site manager for a company. During the first two months, I was trying to find my feet and better understand the way things operated.

Words that affect confidence

Words people who lack confidence use

My manager at the time was based at a different location and would regularly check in with me to see how I was settling in. As the weeks went by, he’d ask me questions related to specific products or customers and I would use the words “I’m not sure” and “I don’t know” frequently in my response.

At first, he didn’t challenge me to have better answers but as time went by, I even noticed myself using “I’m not sure” and “I don’t know” quite a lot which conveyed my level of confidence in my role.

During one conversation, after I had given my usual response, my manager asked me, “If you don’t know, then who would know?” I didn’t have a response so I said I would find out and get back to him. Following that conversation, I took it upon myself to be more proactive and find out answers and report back to him first before I was asked.

As time went, by, changing the words I was using increased my level of confidence in my ability to do my job well. Had I kept using the same words, I may not have been in that role much longer.

Words have power and we have to be more aware of the words we are using daily.

10 Words That Indicate You May Have Low Self-Confidence

  1. Can’t. This often indicates we’re not willing to attempt something or take a new action. If we replace the word “can’t” with “won’t”, we’ll realise that we are choosing not to do something instead of not being able to.
  2. Impossible. This indicates we lack resourcefulness. Nothing is impossible until it is possible. Before using “impossible” it will be useful to pause and question whether it’s true or not, or whether we’re not willing to challenge ourselves to attempt something new.
  3. Hopeless. This suggests we don’t believe in new possibilities and our present reality will remain the way it is. A better alternative is to believe that a solution hasn’t been found as yet, but there is one somewhere.
  4. Unrealistic. This often indicates someone playing it safe and not wanting to take big risks. There have been many achievements in the world that may have been unrealistic at one stage, until they became a reality. Our job is to focus on the outcomes we want.
  5. Meaningless. This indicates lack of clarity or purpose behind taking an action. When there’s no clarity, there’s confusion. Having clarity is key to doing things that are meaningful and on purpose.
  6. Hesitant. This indicates a reluctance to take an action, which often means, we don’t believe we can achieve an outcome we want. Hesitation is often a symptom of lack of preparation or lack of knowledge and skills.
  7. Concerned. This is another way of saying “I’m afraid” or “I’m scared.” Concern means predicting a negative consequence or outcome if an action is taken. We can mitigate our concerns by first identifying what they are and questioning whether they are true or not, then working through them one at a time.
  8. Worried. Even though it is a common human trait to worry about things, it’s imagining a reality that has not occurred yet. Worrying is negative goal-setting. We tend to bring into our lives more of the things we worry about.
  9. Might. This indicates an unwillingness to commit to something and a poor decision-making ability. Just like there is “do” or “don’t do” instead of “try”, it’s better for “might” to be replaced with either a “yes” or “no.”
  10. Useless. This indicates a lack of belief in someone or something a person is doing. Being useful is a lot more beneficial. Our job should be to focus on the positive outcome of taking a particular action, which comes back to having more clarity.

If we are more conscious of the words we use and use positive and empowering words more often, our level of self-confidence will improve. As we use better words, we’ll notice a difference in our emotional state and our willingness to take new actions to achieve the outcomes we want.

Action Step: Pay more attention to the words you are using in your daily conversations over the next week. As you reflect on your words, think of new words you can use in place of words that may be dis-empowering and unproductive.

Question: What are other words that indicate someone may have a low level of confidence?


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