Three Words That Undermine Your Message

“Sorry, not sorry.”

We’ve all seen this jokey phrase flying around social media. It’s become a pop culture hashtag for women to say something uncomfortable without sounding too harsh. 

It’s funny, and in our minds we’re simply being real. But in actuality, we’re apologizing for not apologizing. Yeah, we might have a problem with the word “sorry.”

The words we use communicate a lot more about us than we realize. They communicate credibility, confidence, and competence. And whether we realize it or not, there are a few words women overuse that undermine those very things.

We actually do damage to ourselves because we allow these words to weaken our statements. We would all be more effective communicators if we’d take these words out of our vocabulary altogether.

Here are three words we should all stop saying:

1. “Just”

“I just think we should move forward with that vendor.”

This word is usually used as an explanation, but it comes across as weak, apologetic, and whiny. Sometimes we use “just” to make our idea seem small. That way, if someone doesn’t like it or doesn’t agree with us, we can brush it off without being hurt.


The truth is that you have to believe what you’re saying more than anyone else does. You have to own it, not minimize it! Simply remove this word and the sentence becomes stronger, more direct, and confident. “I think we should move forward with that vendor.” Better, right?

2. “Mean”

“I mean, why won’t that date work for him?”

Saying this before anything immediately discredits the statement or question that follows it, and above all else communicates immaturity. Maybe this is a habit word for you—a filler word taking up precious space in your business vocabulary.

So get rid of it and you won’t even miss it. Your message will sound more professional, confident, and mature. “Why won’t that date work for him?” Smarter and more direct.

 3. “Sorry”

“I’m sorry, but can I ask a question?”

There is a time to apologize. When you’ve been mean or made a mistake, you should say you’re sorry. However, when you ask a question, contribute to a conversation, or tell your babysitter how dirty your house is, don’t say you’re sorry!

Women overuse this word to downplay their strengths and appear more humble and likable. But when we apologize for things we shouldn’t, we not only communicate that we’ve done something wrong when we haven’t, but we do real damage to our own sense of self-confidence. 

Instead, ask your question or make your statement without apologizing for it. “Can I ask a question?” You certainly can!

The Bottom Line 

We teach people how to treat us by the way we present ourselves and the words that we use. You might think one tiny word doesn’t matter, but it changes the entire statement. So the next time you’re speaking up in a meeting or talking to a friend, avoid these weak words. 

Over time, you’ll develop a habit of communicating not only your message, but also the credibility, confidence, and competence goes with it.

Christy Wright

Christy Wright is a Certified Business Coach and Ramsey Personality with a passion for equipping women with the knowledge and steps they need to successfully run and grow a side business. Since joining Ramsey Solutions in 2009, she has spoken to thousands across the country at women’s conferences, national business conferences and Fortune 500 companies. You can follow her on Twitter  or  Facebook.


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