Every conversation is a chance for you to make a lasting impression for better or for worse. The way you communicate with people, either through speech or written text, influences how they perceive you, and how they evaluate you as a professional.

“Your ability to articulate your thoughts and ideas will have a direct correlation to how well you garner cooperation and persuade others to support your efforts and projects.” —Lynn Taylor 

Our choice of words also shows our emotional intelligence. What does this mean? When we are communicating with a team member, investor, client, partner, or an influencer, the language that we use has the power to either advance these relationships or destroy them. To ensure that you will strengthen them, avoid these nine phrases because they have the ability to make you seem ignorant.

‘Well, that’s ironic.’

Many people misuse irony. If you arrive at a meeting and Tina from accounting has the same exact scarf as you, that is NOT ironic, it’s a coincidence. If she recommended you her dentist, and he has terrible teeth, that would be ironic.

Big words

No one is trying to question your intelligence, but, when you use big words, you seem… well, sincerely – you look stupid. Even if you are using the word correctly, people might start thinking that you are not as clever as you would like to be. You better stick with simple words. This will show that you are not faking it, but that you actually know what you’re talking about because you are an expert.

‘You look tired.’

Dr. Travis Bradberry explained this one best “Tired people are incredibly unappealing — they have droopy eyes and messy hair, they have trouble concentrating, and they’re as grouchy as they come. Telling someone he looks tired implies all of the above.”

Maybe you should ask instead if everything is okay. Most people ask others if they’re tired because they are trying to help, but it is better just to ask this one because then you will seem concerned instead of being plain rude.

‘i.e.’

Many people misuse “i.e.” and “e.g” because they are both abbreviations of Latin terms, and they are pretty similar. But, the difference is still there. I.e means id est, which translates to “that is,” while e.g. means exempli gratia, which translates as „for example.“

‘Let’s nip that in the butt.’

Ouch! The correct phrase is “nip it in the bud, “ and it has origins from gardening. The point is that whenever you nip something in the bud, you are stopping it before it gets the chance to flower. Nipping something in the butt? Well, that is meaningless as far as we know.

‘I didn’t have time to take a good look at the agreement, so I just perused it.’

No, no, and no! You see, many people tend to make this mistake and use this word as a synonym for glancing, going through quickly. The proper definition of this word is to examine or consider with attention and in detail. Does that sound like it indicates that you just glanced over something? Instead of peruse, you can use terms like “peeked,” “looked” or “glimpsed.”

‘Actually.’

If you like to start your sentences with this word, you have to know that you can sound as if you are criticizing, making an excuse or being defensive. For example, if someone asked you “Do you have the presentation we need for tomorrow’s meeting?“, and you replied “Actually… Jess has it.”“ Do you see how it sounds? Just skip this word from now on.

‘I did what I was suppose to.’

If this is a phrase you use frequently, you need to know that this is an incorrect use of the word „suppose.“ It should be “I did what I was SUPPOSED.” Don’t forget to insert that “d” whenever you use this phrase.

‘No worries / No problem.’

These phrases are commonly used instead of “It’s my pleasure” or “You’re welcome.” Even though it is not the end of the world if you use one of these expressions, many professionals find them inappropriate in a business setting.

Just bear in mind that the way you speak reflects on what people think about you. Therefore, if you want to be taken seriously, respected and to be seen as professional, you should remove these small errors from your speech right now.

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