Posted by: Jack Henry | December 7, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Week 2 of Weak Phrases

Welcome to the second round of Weak Phrases!

To present ideas with confidence, you should avoid using these weak phrases. Alternatives and explanations are included in the following table.

Weak Phrase What to Say Instead Explanation
Needless to say… Nothing “Needless to say” comes from a long line of ironic phrases where you open a topic by saying you’re not going to say something, but then say it anyway. So why do it?
In my opinion… Nothing Remove the weak intro and just start.
For what it’s worth… Nothing This is another intro that makes it sound as if you’re not convinced yourself about what you’re saying. And if you’re not convinced about your point, why should anyone else be?
Sorry Excuse me It’s fine to apologize if you’ve done something wrong and need to own up to it, but too many people toss in a “sorry” and wind up weakening their image. Why say “Sorry to bother you,” when a simple “Excuse me” is shorter, snappier and less self-deprecating?

Psychologists suggest that people tend to think those who overuse “I’m sorry” are ineffectual and lack confidence. If you need more convincing, keep in mind that from the 13th century on, the word “sorry” was used to mean “wretched” or “worthless.”

I hate to ask… Nothing Just ask!
…if you know what I mean Nothing We’ve seen so many people end sentences with “if you know what I mean,” or its truncated near-twin “know what I mean?” If you’re one of them, stop now. It’s a filler phrase that means nothing—and actually irritates a lot of people.

Along the same lines, avoid starting sentences with puffy phrases like “It’s important to note that …” All you’re doing is adding useless words. Know what we mean?

If you are interested in joining the women’s BIG (everyone is welcome), check us out here. We have talked specifically about weak language in Common Grounds, a virtual space that is safe, free of judgement, and not recorded. Since we don’t record the discussions, you’ll just have to join us here for the next topic if you are interested. (Career Growth: Are There Unique Challenges for Women? Again, all employees are welcome.)

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her

Technical Editor, Advisory

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