Do you want to sound more accurate? Eliminate these 4 phrases that make you look ‘weak or scary’: word experts

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We all have skills, ideas and opinions that we feel confident about. But whether or not other people – boss, colleague, friend, partner or new acquaintance – feel the same depends on how you communicate.

Are you passive and let others move over you? Are you aggressive and making enemies instead of friends? Or are you passive-aggressive and annoy others by being vague? None of these features will help you to be confident.

The key is to be assertive without being overly aggressive, and you can do that by avoiding these four phrases that make you sound weak or intimidating:

1. “I’m sorry to ask this, but…”

When you use apologetic words (eg, “I’m sorry, I have one last question” or “Maybe it’s just me, but…”), it can seem like you’re himself down. Or it can reduce a request you are trying to make.

You’re better off skipping the intros. Don’t say: “I’m sorry to bother you, but can you share the report you made for the team meeting?” Just get to the request: “Can you share the report you made for the team meeting?”

Then close with a “thank you.”

2. “I could do that.”

Verbs are action words. They tell people what you are doing or what you are going to do. To appear stronger, choose verbs that clearly state your intentions.

For example, “will” is much stronger than “could.” Instead of “I could do that,” say “I will.”

Likewise, when you ask for something, “I must” is much stronger than “I want.” Why? Because you are not wants an assistant; you need an assistant

3. “You must…”

When you start a request with a statement based on “you” (eg, “You’re making me…” or “You can’t…”), it can appear as controlling behavior, which is sometimes the result of fear or intimidation. insecurity.

Statements based on “I”, however, can help you communicate how you feel or what you want, without seeming like an attack.

For example, “You need to start that project” sounds more orderly than the equally assertive “I’d love it if you started that project.”

Always lead with your own feelings or actions.

4. “You always…” (or “You never…”)

Generalizations usually lead to arguments because they can make the other person defensive.

If you are unhappy about something, be specific. Instead of saying “You always forget meetings,” say “I was upset when you showed up late to a meeting on Thursday.”

You also don’t want to assign all the blame to one person: “You ruined the show by not being there!”

Instead, describe the situation in detail: “By coming 10 minutes late, you made the show more difficult by distracting the audience.” This gives you a reputation for fairness and helps the other person see where they can improve.

More ways to sound positive without being too aggressive

Being thoughtful and intentional in the way you communicate will go a long way in earning respect. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  1. Say “because” when you decline a request. It softens the “no” and explains your reasoning with confidence. Instead of saying “I can’t do it,” say “I can’t do that today, because I have to prepare for a meeting this afternoon.” (Bonus points if you provide a possible solution: “How about doing that on Tuesday?”)
  2. Say “I understand” when you disagree with someone. Instead of cutting right to the chase about why you think someone is wrong, start with a cleaner like “I see your point” or “I get what you’re driving at.”
  3. Start with empathy. When you are turning someone down, tell them you understand how it affects them. “I know you’re busy and stressed, but I really don’t have the time today.”
  4. When defining a problem, use conditional statements. Follow this format: “If you do [X]then [Y] For example: “When the report wasn’t ready on time, it created a problem for the team’s sales presentation.” This will help you take the emotion out of the problem and focus on the solution.

Kathy and Ross Petras are the brother and sister co-authors of the NYT bestseller”You say wrong,” As well as “Keyword minutes″ and “That doesn’t mean what you think it means.” They co-host NPR’s award-winning podcast”You say it is wrong“Their latest book,”The history of the world through body parts,” is a strange history of things you didn’t learn through textbooks. Follow them on Twitter @kandrpetras.

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