What are some things better not to say?

by Sam on March 2, 2010

One-Minute Answer: Recently we acknowledged the force of our voice and our body language as we speak. Now it’s time to discover the impact of our words even though, as you’ll remember, research tells us that impact pales in comparison to voice and body.


We can accomplish good for ourselves and for others with our words. But there are also phrases that we utter to ourselves and to others that erect roadblocks both to our personal success and to better relationships.


We spout many of these phrases without thinking. Some are ingrained from our upbringing. Others have been accepted into the vernacular. Few can be condemned as downright wrong. Mostly they’re expressions for which you can muster a more positive, a more pleasant, and a more inspiring alternative.


So have at it. Click on the link below for opportunities to become a more consistently positive force in your world.


Five-Minute Answer: You’ll find value in the table below. You may be moved to reconsider one or two unhelpful phrases that have slipped into your speech. You may be able to use one or two of the rows to provide gentle, yet lasting, feedback to someone in your life who could profit.

Better Not to Say…


Better to say…

Phrases Potentially Harmful to You

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to…”

Vow to reach an “impossible” goal and you will amaze yourself.

“I need a plan to overcome the obstacles in front of me.”

“I’ll try…”

Never try to do what you know you can do.

“I will…”

“Boy, did I just blow it!”

Don’t beat yourself up; turn failure into education.

“I just learned one more way not to…”

“This hasn’t been a half-bad day.”

Winners see positive things in their lives as a presence of good not an absence of bad.

“What a great day this has been!”

“Let someone else deal with it.”

Stepping up to the plate helps you as much as it helps others.

“Here’s my chance to make a difference.”

Phrases Potentially Harmful to Your Relationships

“I’ll be as brief as I can.”

Stop apologizing for your ideas.

Just be brief!

“Let’s have lunch sometime.”

What’s heard: “I really don’t care to have lunch with you.”

“Are you available for lunch next week?”

“I’ll come back to that in a few minutes. The next…”

The response: “Isn’t he ever going to stop talking?”

Say what you’re going to say as concisely as you can.

“You never…”

Paints the accused in a corner with no way out.

“I’d like to ask you to start…”

“You always…”


“I’d like to ask you to not…”

“Do what I say, not what I do.”

I can’t believe people say this, except jokingly.

It’s not what you say that counts!

“I’ll never trust you again.”

This statement will eternally echo in the receiver’s ears.

“That action has shaken my trust.”

“You may not agree with what I’m about to say, but…”

Don’t diminish the value of your message before you send it.

Make your point first and only then qualify it as necessary

“No problem.”

You used two negative words to acknowledge “thank you.”

“You’re welcome” or “My pleasure.”

“You don’t have to thank me; I’m only doing my job.”

You just threw the gift of praise back in the giver’s face.

“You’re welcome.”

Why do you disagree with me?”

When challenged, seek clarification not justification.

“What part of what I said do you disagree with?”

“That’s a great question!”

How do those feel whose questions are not “great?”

Answer the question!

“The point I want to make is that…”

Take yourself out of it; it’s about the point, not you

Just start saying what comes after “is that…”

“To tell you the truth…”

Have you been lying up ‘til now?

Say what you want to say!

“You made me angry.”

No one can make you angry. It erupts inside of you.

“I let myself get angry.”

“When do my needs get met?”

Those who focus more on giving than taking are much happier.

“How can I serve you?”

“This is who I am.”

We love who you are—too much to want you to stay that way.

“I have some troubling habits to change.”


People need affirmation that they’re making a difference.

“Great job!” “Thank you!” “I appreciate what you did.”

Enough Said: “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Pet Peeve? Have you an example of something you wish people wouldn’t say? Please share it in the comment section below.

Next Week: “How can we form a better organizational culture?” (It’s not easy, but there are ways!)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dan Auito 03.03.10 at 7:56 am

I think everyone would enjoy this as well Sam. Well done Sir: http://changethis.com/14.05.PositiveAttitude

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