Confidence squashing phrases you should avoid using in the office


Words are powerful, especially in the workplace.

We all want to do well in our jobs and be a positive contribution to our companies.

But what happens when our confidence isn’t quite at the level that we want it to be?

There are many circumstances that can occur in a work environment that may squander our self-confidence – whether that be negative thoughts, jitters during a presentation or being unsure of a pitch. In order to boost confidence in ourselves, we must first reflect on our words.

Below are a few phrases you should eliminate from your everyday conversations.

“Can’t”, “Won’t”, “Don’t”

Learning to eliminate negative vocabulary can make a huge impact on success in the office.

Whenever you use words with negative connotations, it can come across to peers as though you have low confidence and a lack of team-player spirit.

Saying “can’t” or “won’t” not only comes across as dispiriting, but it also eliminates self-confidence. Try to eliminate these words from your daily use. Rather, substitute them for more positive phrasing.

Of course, there may be times when you really can’t do something and it may be best for another colleague to handle that assignment. Instead of phrasing your incapability to complete the request using negative words, try to format it in a positive way.

For example, you could say, “I think so-and-so would be better suited for this task.” This way, you come across as willing to help out while also remaining confident in your own capabilities.


Using this word can come across as timid or trying not to step on anyone’s toes. When you send an email saying, “I just think…” it reads as though you are unsure of yourself or your ideas.

Be confident in your thoughts, opinions and what you have to say.

Although it’s one tiny word, removing ‘just’ from your vocabulary in the office will make you appear more confident in who you are and what you have to say. Why shouldn’t you? You were hired because of your capability to do the job, so express what you have to say if you believe it will benefit the company and your coworkers.

“Does that make sense?”

Piggybacking off of ‘just’, this phrase it yet another way to come across as not being self-assured in your thoughts or yourself.

Asking someone whether or not your explanation is rational displays low self-esteem.

As mentioned before, your thoughts and ideas are valuable in the office. If someone is genuinely confused by something you said, they will often ask for clarification.

Therefore, there’s no need to finish up your statement by asking if something “makes sense”.

Have faith in yourself and your ideas and that will translate into your delivery.

Filler Words (“Um”, “Like”)

My college professor used to ring a bell every time he heard us use a filler word during my public speaking course. For good reason, too – the overuse of words “like” and “um” are often a pet peeve of many.

Although this habit is typically associated with millennials, filler words can get the best of all of us. We use them in an awkward situation, nervous or can’t find the best way to phrase our thoughts.

Many people tend to use them in a meeting or during a presentation.

Try to eliminate these words as much as possible. Although they are so engrained in us, think before you speak and pause every time you catch yourself about to say a filler word.

The key to not using confidence squashing words in the office is to just have confidence.

If we believe in ourselves and justify our words when we say them, then we will not only come across as more confident but will feel it within ourselves as well.