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It’s Time to Ditch Your Powerless Language

We all know that the words we choose have the power to both enhance and detract from the messages we convey.

Using language to make yourself more persuasive, confident and powerful is a beautiful thing. But what about those words we use, often without even realizing it, that muddle up our message and take away from what we’re trying to say?

Word choice affects us in two ways – it impacts the way other people see us, and it impacts our mindset.

Check this out:

Recently it was brought to my attention that there were certain words and phrases that I use more than I should, and that some of the words I’ve been choosing could be more thoughtful.

Upon some reflection, I realized the feedback was totally spot on. From there I decided it was time to ditch the powerless language and get in the right mindset!

Here are three tips on which words and phrases to erase from your repertoire:

#1. Negativity Begets Negativity

It was brought to my attention that a word I use often when describing something is “crappy”.

Now truth be told, sometimes things ARE crappy. That’s life. But when you focus on the negative, usually that just brings more negative.

Negative words keep us stuck in the problem instead of focusing on the solution.

In my case, when it was pointed out to me I was using the word crappy a lot, it was in reference to a room where I was doing a speaking engagement. I didn’t like the way it had been set up, hence I was calling it crappy.

The problem with my focusing on the one “crappy” thing is if I get into the headspace of something not being the way I want it then I’m setting myself up to have a negative outlook. Things probably aren’t going to go that well because I’m dwelling on the less than desirable aspects of what I’m doing instead of having a positive outlook about what I’m about to accomplish.

The language we use can also affect the way people can perceive us, so if we’re using negative words, we can inadvertently send out a message that we’re a negative person.

#2. Stop Saying You’re Sorry!

I’m guilty of this one, and it was pointed out to me that I  overuse the word “sorry” when I actually have nothing to be sorry about. (Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian?)

Having this brought to my attention was a real eye-opener, because I’ve talked before about how we throw that word around, especially when we set out boundaries and feel bad about it.

Boundaries are GOOD! We all need boundaries. Yet for some reason when we decide to draw a line in the sand we often feel the need to apologize for it. Even though we have every right to do so and there really isn’t anything we need to say sorry for.

People also resort to using the word sorry when we’ve spoken up about something and feel uncomfortable about it. Even when it’s justified, we feel compelled to say sorry to try to smooth things over.

A meaningful apology is a wonderful and powerful thing. But saying sorry in situations where we don’t need to detracts from our message. It’s important to recognize why we say sorry in the first place. Usually, it’s from a place of guilt, and guilt isn’t something we want to have driving our actions.

#3. No More “Just”s

“Just” is one of those words that is ingrained in us so deeply that you probably don’t even notice when (or how much) you may be using it.

For women, in particular, it can be even more of an issue because using passive and apologetic language when asserting ourselves is something that we get messaging on from the time we’re very young.

Stop saying “just”. Just stop. No more:

“I just need to…”

“If you could just…”

“Can I just…”

“I was just hoping…”

“It is just me…”

Using the word “just” diminishes our confidence and our power. It adds nothing to what we’re saying.

I’m not going to lie. This one is HARD to fix because we use it so much. But, like anything else, awareness is the first step.

Despite the fact that I’ve done research on this, and I know it’s a word we don’t need to use, even I still do it. My coach pointed it out to me recently so I’ve been working to be more aware and trying to catch myself when it happens.

Not too long ago I did a video, and when I went back to review it I caught five separate times where I used the word “just” for no reason. I couldn’t believe it! I decided to go back and record the video again (which I rarely ever do!) because I wanted to ensure my message was clear and concise.

The point here is that making this particular change will be a work in progress, so I don’t want you to shame or beat yourself up over it when you catch it happening.

This is what I want you to do.

For the next week, I want you to pay attention to your language, especially how often you use the word just. And when you feel it happen, take a moment to stop and correct yourself.

You can do this – ditch your powerless language for good so you can show up at your best. You’re confident and powerful and the words you choose should reflect that.



See Diane's Fearless Conversations Blog for more tips, tools, and strategies for succeeding in difficult conversations and getting what you want need and deserve out of work and out of life.


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