The “Don’t Say This” List

Posted on Feb 27

Most of us would like to think we are good communicators but we often don’t realise the power of the specific language we use and we’re not aware of how we sabotage the outcome by our choice of words.

On The STEP UP and STAND OUT Programme and in most sessions with my 1-2-1 clients we discuss the power of language to get you what you want and that gets you what you don’t want and we look at what is often called “ self-discounting” language – the words and phrases that you use that unknowingly undermine you.

We started to put together a “Don’t Say This” list because knowing which phrases to avoid can help you steer clear of language that can have a negative impact on how you are perceived, especially if you use them frequently.

Here are some suggestions for the “Don’t Say This” list.

Using these phrases, not only in your business but also in your personal life, affects your credibility, minimizes the impact of what you are saying and undermines your professional standing.

I would wish to…

then why don’t you?

Can I ask a question?

You don’t have to ask permission –  just ask the question.

I will aim to …

Either you will or you won’t, so keep it simple.

If you don’t really think you will do whatever it is then leave it out.

I’m sorry to bother you.

Why are you a bother?

Instead say, “Excuse me. Have you got a minute?”

I’ll be honest with you/ to be perfectly honest…..

Aren’t you always honest?

Using this phrase implies that there are times when you’re not!

Simply don’t use it.

I hope you can see the slides from the back…

Why don’t you know? Why haven’t you checked and altered them accordingly?

If you’re audience can’t see them then you’re not showing any respect for their needs.

I was hoping that you could spare a few moments.

Instead simply say, “Excuse me. Do you have a moment?”

I was just wondering if perhaps……

This phrase is a passive way of asking a question or backing into a statement and implies a lack of confidence.

Instead simply ask the question or make the statement.

Instead of “I was just wondering if perhaps it’s ok for me to give handouts?” say “I’ll be giving handouts at the end of my presentation.”

I’m not very good at presenting….

Many people use this as a pre-frame to excuse their lack of skill but your audience probably doesn’t know it before you speak and you have just made up their minds for them!

(I would suggest that if you really are that bad then either don’t present or go and get the skills you need to be good at it).

I’m sure that you can think of others so please send me your favourite phrases to add to the list.


Until next time,

with best wishes for your success,


Cath Daley Ltd.

Related blog posts:

21 Words and Phrases That Should Be Banned from Presentations

The 2 Words You Must Avoid at All Costs If You Want to Be Taken Seriously

8 Tips for Using Stats in Your Presentation

The 6 Principles of a Persuasive and Influential Presentation

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Posted on Feb 27 in Communication skills, Presentation Skills, Public Speaking

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