Eliminate these Words

by | Sep 14, 2020 | Career Advice, Change

Words Are Powerful – Until they’re not – eliminate these words from your speech and writing

As a Career Advisor, my job is to listen, not only to what is said, but what is not said. I interpret body language, I delve into areas that are uncomfortable, and I point out areas for exploration or improvement based on what I am hearing, seeing and feeling. This is the job of a Career Advisor.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a conference room listening to a manager talk about her recent issues with an employee she inherited from the previous manager. She was having trouble getting through to the employee who was underperforming and needed to make some drastic changes to avoid being demoted or let go from the company.  In summary, the manager was doing a lot of talking and documenting and the employee wasn’t listening or reacting in a way the manager felt was appropriate for the situation. 

As I listened more deeply, I realized the manager was using language that was diluting her message. I could see her frustration, hear the sense of urgency in her tone, but the words weren’t matching the message she was trying to convey. Oftentimes, recipients of this type of message and only hear what they want to hear.

Here is a list of words and phrases she used that diluted her message.

  • sorta

  • kinda

  • gonna

  • basically

  • like

  • what I am trying to say

  • my point is

  • just

  • I think

  • I feel

  • I will try (instead “I will”)

  • I may be wrong

  • but

  • don’t you think?

  • Ending a sentence with “right?”

  • Actually…

  • “Nearly” and “almost” when presenting status

  • Fillers (um, uh, you know)

If you aren’t able to clearly articulate your message without using one of these ‘qualifiers’, you too could be diluting your message.

 I kinda think we’re going in the wrong direction, but I may be wrong.


 I believe we’re going in the wrong direction.

 Which has power? Think about how you’d react to these statements if you heard them as you were driving a car and the person in the passenger seat said them. Would you stop the car? Ask for directions? Turn around? Why?

When are you diluting your messages? Examine why. And look to eliminate the words that are watering down your message from your speech and writing. Listen to others speak. How are they taking power out of their messages? Are there more words and phrases you can add to my list? Messaging in business is critical. Make sure you’re using the right language to get your message across so you are heard.

As for my Advisee, she took my advice and started scripting out what she wanted to say to her employee. She carefully chose her language, practiced what she was going to say and went back to her employee with her revised messaging. She was heard! He is making the necessary changes in his work and behavior and he’s on the right path. He ultimately thanked her for the clear messages and said it ‘hadn’t hit home’ the first few times she had tried to tell him.

I’d love to hear from you! What words and phrases do you use or hear that dilute messages?

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