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Don't speak: Three words better left unsaid

And how to rephrase them effectively

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” – Peter Drucker

While we are not responsible for how others take our words, we are responsible for which ones we use. In the hustle and bustle of the interactions we have everyday, it is easy to forget how everybody has their own sensitivities when it comes to communication.

Some words we use come with implications or subtle nuances, hidden like a ninja, that the sensitive will pick up right away. It is the speaker’s responsibility to detect and avoid them.

Here are three examples of words we use in our everyday speech that can come off as offensive or annoying to some of your acquaintances.


1. Of course / Obviously

Depending on the occasion, replying with an “Of course” or “Obviously” can have the hidden implication that the person you’re speaking with has asked a silly question. This would alienate your subject from clarifying anything with you, or even as far as initiating conversation in the future.

Transform it: Use ‘definitely’ instead. It comes off as more professional, and gives out a hint of validation.


2. Using “I” too much

While you may think using “I” comes off as taking responsibility for your opinions and suggestions, using too much of it (especially at the start of sentences) can come off as being a bit full of yourself.

Transform it: Try using “There” or a verb at the beginning of a sentence instead of “I”. For example, “There is one aspect to be highlighted here” rather than “I would like to highlight that…”.


3. Actually

This is a tricky one, and it really depends who you’re talking to. Using this word implies that a previous statement was wrong, and if that previous statement came from your touchy boss, then you’re about to rub them the wrong way here.

Transform it: Simply leave out the word in your sentences. Instead of saying “Actually, this proposal is better suited to our needs,” just say “This proposal is better suited to our needs because of…”. This will give you a convictive edge too.


It is worthy to note that the examples above are highly contextual, or dependant on the situation.

Therefore, it is wise to string your words carefully and put yourself in your listener’s shoes before vocalising your thoughts out loud.

Speak wisely, and all the best!

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