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5 Words to Stop Saying to Be More Confident

Our language is so incredibly important, and so often overlooked.  These 5 words you use regularly are undermining your confidence.

I don’t know whether it stems from us as women believing we have to work extra hard to prove ourselves, the inner perfectionist in all of us, or the desire to qualify all of our words and actions just in case they aren’t “good enough,” but we have got to stop this.

I’m talking about the language we use and how it completely undermines our confidence. Have you ever really thought about the words we use?

Our language is so incredibly important, and so often overlooked. I use these words (far too often I might add), and frankly, I’d rather not.

Here are five words to stop saying to be more confident:


We use the word “just” to qualify our actions, as if the other person is going to be offended by what we’re asking. We use it as if we aren’t confident that our questions and needs demand attention.

Using “just” makes our intentions less forthcoming; it makes it seem like the other person has the power in the situation rather than keeping us on equal ground.

Some examples:

  • “I’m just emailing you to check in…”

  • “I’m just calling to ask…”

  • “I was  just wondering…”

When you find yourself using “just,” whether it’s in an email, on a call, or in everyday conversation, delete it. Reread your email and see how much more confident and in command you sound.


I find myself using “except” to explain why I can’t (or don’t want) to do certain things. Almost as if me saying “no” isn’t a good enough reason on its own. As if I need another reason as to why I can’t or don’t want to do something.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • “I would do this, except…”

  • “I’d like to, except…”

  • “This is good, except…”

Let’s stop softening the blow with “except” and just say no instead.

Try it, and let me know what you think.


How often do you use the word “well”? Personally, I use it when I’m not sure of myself or my opinion and use it to let others guide me.

It’s a sentence starter that’s usually followed by a pregnant pause and nothing of substance.

Instead of “well…” why don’t we just say,

  • “I’m not sure, I need to do more research.”

  • “I don’t know my opinion on the matter yet.”

  • “I don’t really care.”

We need to remember that confidence also comes from admitting when you don’t know something. It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to need more time. It’s not okay that we have to qualify that.


Like “except,” we use “but” simply to justify our opinions or to soften the blow to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings.

Case in point:

  • “Sure, I like it, but…”

  • “I would, but…”

  • “This is good, but…”

Start saying how you really feel, without adding “but” to the sentence. You don’t need to be mean, but you shouldn’t be afraid to voice your own opinion.


“Actually” is a tricky one, because at first glance, it makes it seem like we’re in command, but in reality, it takes power away from us.

Ways we use “actually”:

  • “I actually have something to say…

  • “I actually disagree…”

  • “I actually think…”

It sounds like someone should be surprised that we have something to say or have spoken up. It sounds like we’re challenging someone, and not in a good way.

Your sentence and words are complete without using the word “actually.” Try omitting it, and let your verbs speak for themselves.

While all of these are words that sometimes we can’t help but use, we end up using them for the wrong reasons.

Pay attention to the way you speak, the way you write — do you use these words to your disadvantage?

 Our word choice says a lot about us, and also acts as an example. Change your words for the young girls who look up to you. Change it for women everywhere. But most importantly, change it for yourself. Because you are so worth it. What you have to say is so incredibly valuable — don’t let it get lost with words that lack confidence.

You don’t ever have to justify what you want or need. You are deserving.

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Discussion: What words do you think undermine our confidence?

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.