Everyone wants to appear confident, whether they feel it or not. Confidence shows that you’re self-assured and capable, and it helps you feel good about yourself. It can help you succeed at work and in relationships, and your kids will model the behavior, too.
Some common phrases can interfere with efforts at self-confidence, making you appear less confident to others. Communication is essential when showing how capable you are of overcoming obstacles and making beneficial decisions. When you use specific phrases or words, it can make people question your abilities.
Remembering these phrases that make you sound less confident can help you replace them with better options. It requires thinking before you speak so you can consciously shift from a less-confident phrase to a different one.
Twelve Things That Make You Sound Less Confident
Most of the things that make you sound less confident involve negativity. Experts indicate that positivity leads to looking and feeling confident, so it’s essential to consider what you say before speaking. Here are some examples of what you should avoid saying and what to replace it with.
1 – “You can decide what we do.”
This phrase implies a lack of confidence because it indicates you can’t decide. It can make it seem that you need others to choose or are afraid to speak up about what you want. Sometimes phrases like this make it seem like you don’t want to confront your insecurities or say that you want something different.
What to Say Instead: “I want to do this, and it might differ from what you want.”
Consider what you want to do and communicate it to others. Don’t tell those around you to choose everything for you and then go along with it.
If you and the other person disagree on what to do, explain your reasoning to clarify and stand up for your decision. You can also compromise with the other person, so you both get what you want.
2 – “Well that was a failure.”
Failure happens, but that doesn’t mean it should be the aspect you point out. It makes it seem like you lack confidence because it focuses on negativity and implies you don’t think you can do better.
What to Say Instead: “I learned from this experience and can try again.”
When something doesn’t work out, consider all the things you learned. Each time you fail, it’s a learning opportunity that helps guide you through life.
3 – “Never” or “Always”
Using absolutes shows that you’re not viewing things objectively and can’t recognize your potential. Situations don’t have to be one way or another because there is an objective area in the middle that you can consider. Take some time to put things into perspective before forming an all-or-nothing mindset.
What to Say Instead: Nothing. You should eliminate these words.
Eliminating these absolutes is the best way to handle it. When you stop using “never” or “always” you will sound more confident.
4 – “I have to do it.”
When you use phrases like this, it comes across as an obligation rather than an opportunity. Every time you get to do something, it’s a learning opportunity or a chance for growth.
Using a phrase that suggests you have to do something makes it seem like you won’t gain anything from a negative situation. It makes you seem unconfident in your ability to make choices and grow from unpleasant experiences.
What to Say Instead: “I get to experience this and grow from it.”
This slight shift in the phrase can make you sound more confident as you recognize the situation as an opportunity. Being positive about the experience helps you appear better able to tackle problems and learn new things. It also shows others that you’re not afraid to do tasks you don’t enjoy or aren’t comfortable with.
5 – “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Everyone regrets things sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you should use this phrase. Saying this sometimes shows that you don’t have faith in yourself, your decisions, and your learning abilities.
Discussing what you should have done instead has the same effect because it doesn’t show that you’re learning from your mistakes. Sometimes it can even seem like you’re making excuses, leading to sounding even less confident.
What to Say Instead: “Now I know not to do that in the future.”
Rather than saying you shouldn’t have done something, rephrase it to remind yourself that now you know better. If you hadn’t made the original choice, you wouldn’t have learned the lesson, and you may have even learned more than that. You also might have experienced something you wouldn’t have otherwise.
6 – “You’re so much better than me at this.”
This phrase involves self-deprecation to hide insecurities, but it doesn’t work that way. Instead, it shows that you aren’t confident in your abilities and can make it look like you aren’t good at anything.
What to Say Instead: “Maybe I can learn from you and improve my skill.”
Comparing yourself to others highlights your perceived weakness, making you sound less confident. Instead, you can ask if the other person could show you how to do it better so you can improve your skills. Rephrasing shows that you’re open to growth and capable of learning more.
7 – “What do you think about my opinion on this?”
You can ask questions and listen to varying opinions, but this question can imply you lack confidence. It can lead to people thinking you’re looking for them to solve the problem because you don’t know the answer. Confident people don’t need approval or guidance, so it’s helpful to rephrase.
What to Say Instead: “This is what I think.”
Rephrasing makes you sound more confident because it doesn’t seem you’re unsure of your opinion. It states what you think and gives the other person a chance to offer their thoughts.
8 – “Why does this stuff keep happening to me?”
Sometimes it might feel like everything in your life is going wrong. It can be frustrating and overwhelming, but vocalizing the thought can make you seem unconfident.
What to Say Instead: “I am learning more from each experience.”
You learn something new from every situation you go through. Rather than focusing on negativity and seeming unconfident, you can use this phrase.
It shows that even when things don’t go as planned, you know they’ll improve because you’re learning. This phrase also helps you consider that the situations you’re going through can lead to better things and finding positivity.
9 – “I hope no one judges me.”
You might have thoughts like this, but it’s best to keep them to yourself or risk sounding unconfident. Navigating social situations isn’t easy, and it’s typical to want to be accepted. However, this is a statement better left in your head, and rephrasing it can help you.
What to Say Instead: “I love myself and enjoy life however I like.”
Even when you wonder what others think of you, saying it can make you look less confident than you are. Instead, rephrase your thought to tell yourself and others that you love who you are. Despite what others think, you’re an awesome person who should continue showing your true personality and confidence.
10 – “It’s too hard.”
Saying that things are too complicated makes it look like you don’t have the confidence to improve. When things aren’t easy for you, it’s a sign that you can learn more. The task doesn’t always have to be overwhelming, but this phrase makes it seem like you don’t expect a change.
What to Say Instead: “This is harder than I thought it would be, but I’ll learn.”
Experiencing a difficult situation might be surprising, but it’s not too hard for you to figure it out. With effort, you can learn the task and find it easier in the future. This phrase not only makes you sound more confident, but it also motivates you to understand.
11 – “I should try that.”
When you say you should do or try something, it puts unnecessary pressure on you. The pressure makes it so that you aren’t in charge of your life, whereas rephrasing allows you to make a decision and retain control.
What to Say Instead: “I will (or won’t) do it because it makes the most sense.”
Shifting the phrase and dropping the word “should” allows you to retain control of your life. It makes you the one making decisions rather than creating pressure and relinquishing control.
12 – “This isn’t fair.”
When you vocalize that a situation isn’t fair, it causes you to lose control. It makes you look weak and unconfident because you make yourself the victim. This phrase also makes it seem like you don’t think you can change your situation, and that’s not the case.
What to Say Instead: “This might not be what I wanted, but I can deal with this situation.”
Things happen that we didn’t plan for or didn’t want, but we can deal with them. If you shift your phrase to this one, it shows you can handle whatever comes your way. It allows you to remain in control rather than giving over your power to the experience.
Final Thoughts on Phrases That Make You Sound Less Confident (And What to Say Instead)
You may not have realized that some of these phrases make you sound less confident. However, you don’t have to continue using them when you can quickly shift the thought before speaking it aloud. When you rephrase what you were thinking, it makes you appear more self-confident. Those around you will view you as capable and positive, and you’ll feel the confidence, too.