4 Words That Kill Your Impact: Drop These from Your Vocabulary

December 5, 2023

In both sales and leadership, we work hard to position ourselves as valuable, confident, and impactful. Unfortunately, certain subtle language patterns can undermine this influence. Simple filler words or tentative phrases quietly sap the potency of our communication.

The good news is that with awareness, we can shift our vocabulary to maximize positive impact. By minding the use of apologetic, minimizing, or indirect terminology, we can stand fully behind our ideas, requests, and conversations. Eliminating these words allows us to better communicate our thoughts with conviction and straightforward assurance.

  1. "Sorry"

"I'm sorry I was late to the Zoom." "I'm sorry I didn't call you back in 30 seconds." "I'm sorry for..."

I'm all for sincere apologies but "sorry" has become a filler word. I prefer to save apologies for when they are truly needed and find another way to fill the void.

When you are 2 minutes late for a Zoom try "Thanks for waiting!"

When you should have responded more quickly than you did, try "I really appreciate your time so thank you for understanding I could not respond sooner."

  1. "Little"

We all say it.

"Let's plan a little meeting"

"Let's kick off this little project"

Unfortunately, you minimize whatever you say next by using this word, which could impact how people perceive your interest level in the topic.

You don't even need to replace this word, just eliminate it from your vocabulary. For instance, instead of saying "Let's plan a little meeting," say "Let's arrange a meeting."

Allow your nouns to stand confidently without unintentional downplaying.

  1. "Just"

Don't cushion your thoughts with "just" - be direct in sharing ideas and requests.

For example, rather than saying "I just need 5 minutes," plainly state "I need 5 minutes" or "May I have 5 minutes of your time?"

Own what you say rather than downplaying through tentative language.

  1. "Actually"

Rather than correcting someone with "actually," find more constructive ways to preface additions or differing perspectives.

For instance, "Building on what you said earlier..." or "That's a good point. I also wonder if..." Focus on inviting dialogue rather than shutting it down.

Eliminating these words will provide a more engaging and empowering dialogue as well as greater leadership presence. Mindful language positions us as decisive communicators who speak openly, constructively and to the point, ultimately helping to align with and amplify our value.

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Mike Chudy

Owner of Austin Sales Consulting