8 common phrases that can ruin your credibility

The opposite day my husband and I had been watching the information and a politician discussing the state of affairs in Washington started with “in my humble opinion.” Over the course of his quick interview he repeated that phrase 4 or 5 occasions. He was a great speaker apart from this.

He had a lot to say, however all we keep in mind of his interview was “in my humble opinion.” Expressions like these are known as “caveats”—phrases tucked into our speech to qualify what we’re saying.

“Caveat” comes from a Latin phrase that means ‘beware.’ Once we use caveats we actually warn our viewers to watch out for what we’re saying. To sound extra credible, take away the next caveats from your speech. 


This is likely one of the most common expressions of this sort. It additionally pops up as “actually,” or “let me be trustworthy with you.”

Whenever you use this caveat, you’re warning your viewers that every little thing else you’re saying might not be true. Suppose you announce, “Our staff will full the undertaking on time, however to be trustworthy, it’s going to take an enormous push.” The second half of the sentence starting with “to be trustworthy” implies that the primary half won’t be true. 


Why plant doubts in your viewers’s thoughts? Take away this caveat and state what to be true.


We hear this one rather a lot, normally indicating that the speaker needs to qualify what she or he is about to say. Variations embody, “it’s simply my opinion,” “in my humble opinion” or (for texters) IMHO.

Calling your views simply an “opinion” weakens your assertion. It suggests your contribution displays a private whim or bias, relatively than a reasoned argument.

Take away this caveat. You would possibly substitute it with the stronger “I consider.” Or, even higher, present the explanations you’ve taken this stance. The viewers will sit up and take discover.


Audio system who preface their feedback with this caveat, might use this expression to sound humble and accommodating. However in reality, they recommend their remarks are redundant—and never price listening to.


Suppose earlier than you communicate, and when you really feel anyone is aware of what you’re about to say, both don’t say it, or current the data in a brand new, forceful manner. Folks don’t thoughts listening to a brand new slant on a subject they’ve thought-about.


We frequently hear this one from individuals who could also be completely positive of their views however need to sound humble. A junior staffer would possibly say, “I’m unsure, however I believe we can reduce our assembly time down by one hour. Right here’s how.” By the point we get to “right here’s how” we’ve dominated out any knowledge from this fledging staff member.

Eradicate a phrase that declares, “Don’t hearken to me.” Simply plunge into what you consider. Others will hearken to you and reply to your good concepts.


This expression initiatives weak point and uncertainty—why ought to anybody care about these views?

If a monetary analyst says, “We anticipate inflation to extend, however I might be unsuitable,” we don’t know what to consider. The skilled basically has dominated himself out as an skilled.

Go away this caveat out and ship a extra considerate response: “We anticipate that inflation will improve. Right here’s why.” Develop on these factors, and present you’ve thought-about numerous contingencies. Don’t create the impression that you’re over your head in coping with the topic.


This can be a self-inflicted wound. Listeners will instantly low cost the phrases that comply with. Think about a job interview the place a candidate asks, “That is in all probability a silly query, however can you inform me whether or not I may do business from home.” Actually, it’s a silly query. The candidate betrays that they haven’t finished their analysis—and reveals they don’t deserve the job.

If your query is legitimate, ask it. If it’s not, don’t. However don’t flag it as a dumb query.


This innocent sounding caveat is one other credibility killer. It’s typically used when a senior individual doesn’t need to sound overpowering. A boss would possibly say to a junior staff member, “Only a thought, however are you on the lookout for a mentor?” Whereas the intention is honorable, the phrasing undercuts the suggestion.

A greater manner of expressing your views—with out sounding authoritarian—could be merely to say, “Have you ever considered discovering a mentor?”


This caveat, together with expressions corresponding to, “Do you thoughts?” or “If that’s okay,” weakens you—and sounds a bit edgy.

One would possibly say to somebody they admire, “When you don’t thoughts, I’d wish to ask you ways you constructed such a profitable profession.” The prefatory expression, “When you don’t thoughts,” makes it sound just like the speaker is coming into territory the place she might not belong. It suggests the listener may thoughts the query. When you use this phrase when asking about somebody’s well being or job, you is likely to be hinting that what follows is impolite.

When you’re shut sufficient to that individual, and the query is suitable and necessary, ask it with out the caveat. In any other case, holding again is one of the simplest ways to go.


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