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Weed out wimpy words

Speak up without backpedaling, qualifying

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

“I’m hoping we can handle that deadline.”
“That’s definitely a possibility.”
“I’ll do what I can, I assure you.”

At first glance, these statements might seem fine. But you’ll never hear a leader use them.

Leaders watch their word choice. They send clear, unambiguous messages. Even if they’re unsure, they’ll say only what they know rather than waffle. Take these steps to talk like a leader:

Estimate within ranges. To predict when you’ll complete a project, don’t just say “Soon” or “It shouldn’t be a problem.” Give dates. Example: “I need to collect and analyze the results. You’ll have the report in two to three weeks.”

Skip qualifiers. Beware of undercutting your commitments. Don’t say, “I intend to,” “It looks like I can” or “If all goes well.” Better: Jump right to your point. “I’ll have it to you by Friday at noon.”

If you have a strong, well-founded opinion, state it boldly. Don’t preface it with “In my humble opinion” or “Not that I’m an expert.”

Disagree without apology. State your case confidently and diplomatically— without showing remorse or anxiety. Politely say, “I see things differently” or “I disagree.”

Banish speech tics. Beware of repeating yourself or forming other bad speech habits. Example: Ending sentences with “Know what I mean?”

Ask a true friend to tell you when you resort to sloppy speech patterns. Tape yourself when giving presentations so that you can see how you get into trouble.

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