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  • Writer's pictureChristine Callihan

8 Words to Clear Out of Your Vocabulary

Updated: Sep 1, 2019

Communication is essential to career success. In fact, according to Project Oxygen, which sought to evaluate data on employees at Google, “communicating and listening well was one of the skills that best predicted success”.

We all want to say the right things. We spend our days communicating through phone calls, emails, meetings, interviews. Are we being perceived in the way that we want? According to the experts, we should eliminate these words from our professional vocabulary.

Honestly. Studies have shown that this is used oftentimes in an interview when trying to kick off an interview answer. However, beginning a sentence in this way makes the hiring manager wonder whether you have been honest with the previous responses. Another variation is, “Let me be honest…”. Were you not being honest before?

Just. Instead of sending an email that starts with, “just wanted to check in…..” say “I’m checking in on this, that and the other thing”. Why? According to the experts, just is not needed and not only that, it does a lot to “detract from your credibility and confidence and negates from the importance of your message.” This is one small adjustment that can make a big difference in the impression that you give.

Things. Instead of saying, “How are things going with our project?” try saying, “Can you share an update on how our project timeline is progressing”. This is clearer, more meaningful and descriptive. You are likely to receive the real answer that you needed.

According to Forbes, when you are in an interview, instead of saying, “there are many things that make me a great candidate” just list those things!

Sorry. According to Forbes, “women are the most frequent culprits in the overuse of this word, but everyone should stop apologizing for anything they’re not really sorry for.” A better approach is to try offering a solution. For example, instead of saying, “Sorry, Tuesday doesn’t work for me”, try saying, “Tuesday is booked for me. Are you available Wednesday or Thursday?”.

When you are recording your voicemail message, instead of saying, “I’m sorry I cannot answer your call…..” record something like, “I am unable to answer your call right now, please leave a message….”. Don’t be sorry for being busy working!

Hopefully. Instead of saying “Hopefully we will hear back about this by Monday” say “I asked for an answer by Monday morning, and if I don’t hear back, I will follow up”. This response sounds more like a person who gets results.

Your Speech Disfluencies. We all have these. These are those space fillers like um, ah, like, right or “you know what I mean”. These are the phrases and words that are used to fill up dead air and end sentences. They are credibility killers. To make these even more challenging, they are usually used involuntarily, meaning most people are unaware they’re even using them.

It is what it is. This one is incredibly common. It sends the message that it is out of your control, but even worse, it says that you are relinquishing responsibility. It puts an end to creative problem solving and concedes defeat.

No problem. This is a minor one that I hear all the time. It is spoken with good intentions, but according to the experts, it conveys the opposite message from what was intended. For example: “Thank you for getting me this report so quickly”. “No problem!”

This phrase is being used in place of “your welcome” and it can begin to sound like doing your job is actually a problem. It could even sound like it sends the message, “It is a problem and I forgive you for it”.

After researching these words, I honestly think I say a lot of these things. Sorry! Hopefully, I will learn to stop, you know? I don’t know. It is what it is! 😊

This post is not meant to make you question everything you say and become rigid in your speech. It is meant to cause us all to be mindful of our speech. We certainly do not want to send the wrong message. Effective communication skills are extremely important in furthering our career.

If you are preparing a speech or getting ready for a big job interview, practice your speech or your answers to typical interview questions on video and play it back to yourself. There may be a few changes that will make a big difference in how you are perceived.

What other words can you think of that have a negative effect on our perception?

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