Have you ever sat down and really thought about the way that you communicate in the workplace? Are there certain words and phrases that are firm favourites of yours? Do you tend to water down your message so that you don’t offend anyone? If you found yourself answering yes to any of those questions then you may well be suffering the modern-day scourge of being too wishy-washy. And so if you’re a compulsive ‘sort of’, ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’ kind of person then yes, this article is directed at you! Find out how your choice of words could, in fact, make your message lack clarity and clear instruction and make you appear as though you are unconfident in your decision-making ability.

Importance of confidence

As a manager, or indeed in any aspect in life, it’s important to come across as confident and authoritative. In short, staff members need to feel as though their leaders know what they’re talking about. The type of language you use and your choice of words are very important in conveying the right sense of authority. Try to avoid the following words and phrases which will hinder rather than help your image as a confident leader:

  • ‘I’m not sure, but…’
  • ‘possibly’
  • ‘potentially’
  • ‘hard to say’
  • ‘just my opinion’.

These words and phrases impart a sense of uncertainty or tentativeness. If you are waiting on some critical data before making a decision, then why not just say so. If you’re unsure about something because you haven’t sufficiently researched it, then be upfront about it. Providing more context in this way will make it clear that your hesitancy is down to a lack of information rather than a lack of confidence.

Importance of clarity

Try to avoid saying things like ‘sort of’ and ‘kind of’. Both these phrases create a lack of clarity for your team members. Say, for example, that your boss tells you ‘I sort of like the work you did on that project.’ What are they actually saying to you? Is it, in fact, that your work wasn’t up to scratch, or is it a rather wishy washy compliment? You see, it’s not clear, is it? And so when you use these kinds of phrases not only are you being unnecessarily vague about what the true situation is, you’re also sounding less confident and transparent than you should be.

In fact, the best thing to do as a manager is use unambiguous, everyday language and call a spade, a spade. That way not only do you come across as a confident leader, you’re also being clear in your instructions to staff members and letting them know exactly what’s expected.

Being a manager of people is a difficult enough task as it without the poor choice of language making it harder. And so make sure that your language isn’t inadvertently presenting an image of an unclear and unconfident leader.