Researchers believe that the earliest spoken language was Mayan, which arose around 7,000 years ago. Imagine, in 70 centuries, we’ve progressed to, “… and I was like, really?”
Whether you are leading a team meeting, presenting to a prospective client, or delivering a keynote speech to a global audience, verbal mistakes will undermine your credibility and distract from your message.
1. ‘I’m Confused’ or ‘I Don’t Get It’
Instead of putting all the responsibility on the other person, take co-ownership. Say, “Help me understand your position,” and remain open.
2. ‘You Know What I Mean?’ and “Does That Make Sense?’
Asking for constant validation chips away at your command.
3. ‘I was like …’ or ‘She was like …’
The word “like” is an unsophisticated setup that gets in the way of your clarity and credibility.
4. ‘Um, Ah, Uh, You Know’
Watch out for overuse of filler words. Practice pausing to counteract the clutter.
5. ‘I’ve Been Too Busy’ or ‘I Started Writing an Email and Forgot to Send It’
Excuses are unattractive. Say, “” apologize for the inconvenience. You will have it by tomorrow.”
6. ‘Out-of-the-Box Thinking’
This phrase should be retired. We can’t escape all the buzzwords and buzzphrases, but ones like this have become boring through overuse.
7. ‘You always …’
Sweeping generalizations lack insight and get in the way of healthy dialogue. Be specific and avoid using vague blame tactics.
8. ‘I Think We Should Kind of Do It This Way’
Tentative language waters down your presence as a confident communicator. Make a solid recommendation and own it.
9. ‘I Hate to Say This, but …’ or ‘John Is a Good Person, but …’
Don’t try to disguise criticism with a layer of caring or say things that offer zero value.
It’s an all-purpose complaint that sounds like whining. Try making an interesting observation instead.
If you want to have more credibility and influence, be, uh, like, you know, more intentional in your communication. Replace negative tones and lackluster words with positive tones and authentic, appreciative words. Each new day is an opportunity to inspire greatness, so say something real.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com
Lou Solomon is the founder and CEO of Interact, a leadership communication consultancy that helps Fortune 500 companies (like Goodrich, Wells Fargo, and Duke Energy), CEOs, managers, entrepreneurs, and their teams be true to their authentic selves and advance in leadership.