Do you listen to yourself when you speak – as in your choice of words?

For most of us, it’s not that easy to talk and listen to ourselves at the same time. But whether we’re paying attention or not, our words are landing on other people whenever we say something.

And it pays to have a sense for how your words are coming across.

When it comes to choosing words wisely, I’ve come across this article that identifies one word that destroys your credibility. According to Eric Holtzclaw, that word is “actually”.

In my experience, there are other words and phrases that can give people the wrong impression about you as well. Here are some to watch for:

  • “Like”
    When used improperly and often, “like” makes you sound less intelligent, and can be distracting. Do you want others to be distracted by counting the number of times you say “like”?
  • “To be honest, ….”
    This is another version of “actually”. I remember one of my senior team members (an Oxford graduate) using this phrase often until I asked him, “Does that mean you’re not being honest the rest of the time when you don’t say that?”
  • “But…”
    When you start a sentence with “but” in response to someone else’s comment, it makes you sound argumentative. If that’s your intention, then go for it. Otherwise, “and” is a better conversation creator.
  • “… but I don’t know …”
    Making a statement and stating your opinion, but then trailing off at the end with those “can’t be sure” phrases when you actually do know makes you sound hesitant and undermines your credibility. Why not let your statement stand on its own instead of weakening it with those added words at the end?
  • “Um”
    This and other filler words can come across as unconfident, unsure of yourself, or the sign of a slow or fuzzy thinker. Punctuating your thinking time with silence serves you better.

In my experience, listening to your own words and choosing them well can have a positive impact on the image you convey to others. Don’t let a few thoughtless (as in done without thinking) words and phrases bring you down!

So, what credibility destroying words or phrases do you recommend avoiding?