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Communicate Better: Words of Wisdom

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Welcome to 2021, for some this will bring the feeling of a clean slate; creating new resolutions and getting motivated to start the year with determination and gusto!

One resolution to consider may be honing your communication skills, to help you to communicate better, with both conviction and clarity. We’re all conditioned differently; how often do you pay particular attention to what you are saying, rather than how you are saying it? This can have a significant impact on the meaning you want to convey and even create unintentional tension. Being conscious of the words you use when communicating can help improve your relationships and reclaim your confidence.

We’ve compiled a list of some words we consciously look out for when communicating, and offer some suggestions on how to add value and meaning to what you are saying.

I’m sorry – Do you catch yourself apologising all the time? Do you say things such as, sorry I‘m late or sorry to interrupt you? Start to show appreciation over apologising, by saying thank you instead of sorry, to improve your self-esteem and confidence.

I think – Do you say I think regularly? Saying I think can be interpreted as having a lack of confidence and being unsure of yourself. Much like asking, ‘I’m going to ask a stupid question’, this can erode your credibility. Try to be more assertive and sure of yourself by simply stating the facts; your words will sound more persuasive.

Just – Don’t you just hate all these questions? I was asking them to just see if they resonate with you. The word ‘just’, is the ultimate filler word in our language. When used in verbal communications, using just makes it sound like you are apologising; it reduces your confidence, your credibility, and your authority. To avoid using just, try stopping and breathing to collect your thoughts while you think about what you want to say. A small pause can make a huge difference!

But – As above, but even more distracting! ‘But’ can open up room for debate and come across as negative and even dismissive in some scenarios. Try pausing instead or replace ‘but’ with ‘and’ to channel a more collaborative feeling with your communication.

Like – Like is frustrating. Like, when it’s used incorrectly you know? It’s another filler to buy time when you’re speaking, along with “ummm”, “er” and even “you know”. Try to take time to think before you speak and develop a pace to avoid using these empty words. If it doesn’t add substance to what you are saying, leave it out.

Should – The word should is based on other people’s expectations, not our own. It can be judgmental and breed insecurity. If we say we should do something, it belittles our choice; if we tell someone they should do something, we aren’t giving them an option, we are being direct. Try using “could” or “would” as they are motivating and encourage a take-charge attitude in a gentler manner.

Becoming aware of the words you use when communicating takes a lot of thought and practice. It’s worth trying, as what we say not only impacts others, it impacts other people’s perceptions of us. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”, which can make the difference in communicating effectively.