Want to Sound More Confident? Avoid These 7 Words, the Last One Will Surprise You

Word choice can affect many things, including the way people perceive you.

A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames
4 min readJan 14, 2023


Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-and-white-book-business-close-up-267669/

Some words can make you seem intelligent and confident while others have the opposite effect. There are also words which are fine in some situations and there are words that should never be used.

A 2006 study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology found that “a majority of undergraduates admit to deliberately increasing the complexity of their vocabulary so as to give the impression of intelligence.”

Using certain words can kill all the time and effort you’ve spent on developing your image. You may have truly great insights that provide clients perspective and encourage patience, but uttering the wrong word may show a lack of confidence.

And if you aren’t able to deliver that information with confidence, clients might not be convinced enough to heed your recommendations.

While some people may indeed just be born confident, we lament the absence of it in ourselves. There’s good news though, we can grow our own confidence with a little work.

One way confidence is judged is by an individual’s behavior, especially verbal behavior. That’s according to Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

You might think your way of speaking is natural, but the words you use and how you use them can determine how your confidence is judged. While there’s no such thing as right or wrong words, some common words we use in conversation really put us at a disadvantage because they’re weak and make us seem less confident.

Movable type
Image by Willi Heidelbach from Pixabay

So, where better to start building your confidence than in the words you use, or don’t use.

“Literally…” — Unless you’re a 14 year-old girl, then using “literally” is okay.

“Well…” — Starting a sentence with “well” is a clear indication you’re still thinking, still hesitant, still…



A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames

ElbyJames is an American disabled combat vet exiled in the UK & a free speech absolutist. He’s an occasional Top Writer