If you’re looking to advance in your career, thinking about the way you communicate is a good place to start. After all, it’s a skill that’s always in demand and goes a long way toward shaping others’ perceptions of you.
But a handful of irritating—and common—words and phrases can undermine your hard work. “Words are powerful things, and some words and phrases can really have a negative kind of energy,” says communication coach Alan Samuel Cohen, author of The Connection Challenge: How Executives Create Power and Possibility in the Age of Distractions. At best, such phrases are distracting. In the worst-case scenario, they can actually trigger a strong negative reaction in your counterpart, either to the conversation or to you.
While it’s impossible to police every word you say—and people are going to hear what they’re going to hear, Cohen says—there are better options to consider.
“THIS MIGHT BE STUPID/SILLY”
When you use self-deprecating language before you put forth your ideas, you’re immediately diluting others’ confidence in you and giving them permission to dismiss you, says Ellie Eckhoff, senior vice president at ClearRock, a leadership-development and executive-coaching firm.
“Some people might start with, ‘This might not be a good idea, maybe we’ve already done this, this might not work,’” she says. “So, starting the conversation with minimizing what they’re going to offer.”
Say it better: Simply state your idea without qualifying it. You’ll be more valued for your contributions.
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