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October 20, 2015

3 Words Women Need to Stop Saying

“It doesn’t matter what you say. It only matters how you say it.” I don’t know where that saying came from, but that’s a load of crap.

“It doesn’t matter what you say. It only matters how you say it.”

I don’t know where that saying came from, but that’s a load of crap.

Sure, it matters how you say something. Your tone, body language and expressions communicate a lot about you and your message. But the actual words that you choose are equally important.

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

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

Here are three words that we should stop saying in these contexts.

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. If you take out the word, the sentence becomes stronger, more direct and confident. “I think we should move forward with that vendor.”

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. It sounds like a Valley girl and, above all else, communicates immaturity. Taking this out will immediately make the message more professional, confident and mature. “Why won’t that date work for him?”

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, hand your child to your husband, or have another person bump into you, stop saying you’re sorry.

Women overuse this word to downplay their strengths and appear more humble and likable. But when we apologize for things that 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?”

We teach people how to treat us by the way that we present ourselves and the words that we use. You might think that 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, practice avoiding these three words. Over time, you’ll develop a habit of communicating not only your message, but also the credibility, confidence and competence goes with it.

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Leave a Comment

  • Melissa Burns says:

    I use all those words. I have noticed recently as I’m sending messages, commenting, etc. I have been deleting the word ‘just’ and ‘sorry’ and leaving the statement as is. Now that I see it written in this context the damage I was doing by saying those words and what it says about me. I will be extra careful to change my language, change my credibility confidence and competence.

  • Mason Yost says:

    Another word we could all drop from our vocabulary; because it usually adds nothing; is “that.”
    “We teach people how to treat us by the way that we present ourselves and the words that we use” can be said equally well as follows: “We teach people how to treat us by the way we present ourselves and the words we use.”

  • Hattie Heflin says:

    YES take those words out!
    “sorry” should never be used for apologies,
    Say I apologize! “sorry” means- you are a “SORRY” Person. If interrupting, I prefer to use the word excuse me, this is a more proper term.

  • Nancy says:

    I appreciate these tips. I have notice the “sorry” one used quite often. This one particularly bothers me also. The others are new for me.

    Thanks again for bringing these to my attention.

  • Riley Ramsey says:

    This article provided such great confirmation! I have frequently needed to deal with businesses on the phone, where many of the employees gave conflicting information. This is why I always ask the same question in different ways, and to different people. If I find one saying, “I mean…” or “I just…”, I know they are trying to justify themselves, and are uncomfortable. This means they may not be giving the correct information, or that I can get a better deal by talking directly to the manager.