Building your credibility and positioning yourself as a successful professional requires more than just industry knowledge. Your presentation plays a significant role in how your colleagues, clients, employees, and prospects regard you. While they may be viewed as harmless, some common phrases may be standing in your way of being accepted as a competent expert in your field.
Here are the 8 most common phrases you should avoid in both professional and personal conversations:
I’ll Try – This little phrase has some big implications. By saying you will try, you are actually communicating that you aren’t sure you will be able to complete what is being asked of you. Regardless of whether the recipient interprets this as a lack of ability or time, you will come across as lacking in some essential skills.
I Can’t – There are two issues with this phrase. First, most interpret I can’t as actually meaning I won’t. Second, if you truly lack the skills to do what is being asked, this phrase subtly implies that you aren’t willing to adapt. Replace I can’t phrasing with proactive, solution-driven phrases. Instead of saying, “I can’t access that report,” try saying, “I haven’t learned to access that report yet. Will you show me, so I know how to do it next time?”
This Will Only Take A Minute – Your time and skills are valuable, and each time you tell someone that what they are asking will only take a minute, you downplay your expertise. Unless the task will truly only take 60 seconds, it’s always better to let the person know that the task won’t take long.
It’s Not My Fault – People trust someone who takes accountability for his or her actions. If a mistake or problem has come to light, own up to your role in it, without casting blame elsewhere. If your actions didn’t play into it, avoid pointing fingers by laying out the facts and letting others draw their own conclusions.
No Problem – Who hasn’t been guilty of using this little phrase to replace the more formal, “you’re welcome.” However, by saying that the task was no problem, you are minimizing your efforts and, more importantly, implying that it could have been a problem. This makes people feel as though they put you out by asking in the first place.
It’s Not Fair – Each time a colleague says this phrase, it’s hard to avoid the mental image of a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. It’s not fair makes the speaker look juvenile and immature. When dealing with situations that feel unfair, stick to the facts and be constructive in your phrasing.
But It’s Always Been Done This Way – Successful professionals understand that business moves quickly. From technological advances to the ever-changing needs of your customers, businesses need to adapt. Doing something simply because it’s always been done this way shows a lack of innovation and versatility.
I Have A Stupid Question – We’ve likely all said it, but this damaging phrase doesn’t need much explanation to outline why it instantly diminishes your credibility. Even if the idea that follows is simply brilliant, the listener has already lost confidence in you. If you have a question, ask it without the discrediting lead in.
In order to stand out as a thought leader and an expert, you must exude confidence, drive, passion, and credibility. These simple sayings have likely passed all of our lips, but as we continue to move forward towards success, we should work hard to abolish these phrases from both our vocabulary and our thoughts.