Seemingly Innocent Words And Phrases That Can Undermine You In Conversation

Image: Cade Martin, Dawn Arlotta, USCDCP (CC0)

The whole point of language is to clearly communicate ideas and concepts, but tone, word choice and even structure can unwittingly sabotage you. The key is to recognise these situations and use alternative phrases that emphasise productive and positive attitudes.

Writing for Fast Company, Judith Humphrey has selected a few words and phrases that on the surface seem harmless, but depending on the scenario, can subtly undermine you:

  • "Whatever"
  • "Pissed off"
  • "It is what it is"
  • "Can't"
  • "Hope"

Now "hope" is an interesting one. You've probably lost count of the number of times you've said "I hope this works" or "Hopefully, we won't have problems" or some other variation. What could be so terrible about this uplifting four-letter word? Humphrey explains:

In some contexts, it can make you sound less than confident ... you’re really planting the opposite idea — the possibility that you may not. Obviously, that possibility is real and may even be one that you want to impress upon your team in order so they know what the stakes are. But then why not just say, “I really want us to meet our sales target, and I know we can get there”?

Humphrey suggests injecting more confidence into your statements, even if there's an element of uncertainty. At the very least, it'll put those around you in a positive frame of mind and start the endeavour on the right foot.

Six Words And Phrases That Make Everyone Hate Working With You [Fast Company]


    Or when people ACTUALLY say in a conversation out loud in all seriousness.... O...M...G, F...M...L...or L..O...L

    I call these people "Soylent Green candidates "

    'Hope', 'try', 'maybe'...these are not viable management strategies. Promote them at work, and that's the only promotion you'll see.
    OTOH, if you say:
    'the probability of success here is running at about 50%, I have a plan to deal with the down-side contingency..."
    you are foreman material.

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