Starting a conversation seems easy. You just open your mouth and speak your mind, right?
Not so fast! It’s important to think before we speak and stop relying on crutches that can undermine our message, offend the other party, or make us seem incompetent. Reader’s Digest suggests avoiding these phrases before trying to chat with someone else.
10. “Well, actually…”
This phrase makes people feel as if you’re correcting them. Even if you’re right, it often invalidates the other person’s point of view.
Clinical psychologist Jephta Tausig, Ph.D. suggests switching this out for something like, “From the information I have…” or “From what I understand…” so the other person can interject or even agree with you.
9. “You should…”
Other related phrases include, “Have you tried…” or “If I were you.”
This phrase makes it seem as if you know everything and the other person doesn’t. If you’re tempted to use this phrase, consider staying silent. Ask the other person if they’d like your advice or opinion, and then only share it if they give you their consent.
8. “I think…”
This often diminishes the value of what you will say next.
Instead, try phrases such as, “Based on my experience…” or “I believe…” or simply state what you think without adding a qualifier.
7. “As I previously stated…”
The above phrase usually comes across as hostile or accusatory, especially if your crowd is actively listening to you.
“I just wanted to…” “Just do it” and “Just thought you should know…” are all phrases that show you have little regard for the other party’s feelings.
Try phrases such as, “I would like to know…” or “What do you think of…” before using “just” to qualify any difficult news or questions.
5. “No offense…”
This is often a precursor to an offensive comment. Dr. Tausig suggests using “I” statements or asking the other person if they’d like some constructive feedback.
Related phrases are “To be honest” or “Can I be honest with you?”
Hearing this could make the listener wonder if you weren’t being honest beforehand. It’s best to simply state what you think so the listener knows you’re being authentic.
3. “I know just how you feel…”
This phrase can come across as uncaring, especially if the other person is grieving or going through something difficult.
Everyone is different and you may not know they feel even if you’ve been through the same thing. Try to check in with the other person after a while, since most people only check up on others when circumstances are recent.
2. “This may be a silly question…”
Related phrases include “This may sound stupid” and “I may be wrong here.”
Avoid this phrase in all settings, but especially in a professional environment. Once you qualify your upcoming statement with a negative qualifier, your audience really does assume you might be silly or stupid.
1. “I’m not racist, but…”
This is a huge red flag.
Don’t use it, and seriously think about why you’d want to start a conversation this way.
So… what do you think? Many of these phrases are still pretty common in our everyday vocabulary, but are there any we might have missed?
Feel free to share them in the comments!