This Word You Use Every Day Is Showing Your Insecurities, Experts Say
There's an unspoken meaning behind this word that you may not have realized.
When it comes to making a good impression, you're probably thinking both about how you look and how you sound. But while you may have prepped for an interview, an important presentation, or even a big date by bulking up your vocabulary, there's one little word that's likely to seep into conversation that's both signaling your insecurities and also diminishing your confidence to boot. Sure, we all have moments where we doubt ourselves, but we may not necessarily want that out in the open. So, what's the four-letter word experts say you should avoid if you don't want your insecurities to show? "Just." Read on to find out why this word needs to be cut out of your life, and for more words to watch out for, know that If Your Partner Is Using These 2 Words, You May Be Headed for a Breakup.
Let's say someone at work says to you, "You did a great job with this," and you respond with, "I just followed the instructions," that one word only serves to soften your achievements. According to licensed psychologist Adrienne Meier, PhD, "the word 'just' minimizes whatever follows it, whether it is a task, activity, attribute, and/or accomplishment. It is almost as if we are apologizing for whatever it is, instead of owning it."
"When we use the word 'just,' it comes across as a lack of confidence in ourselves and whatever it is we are doing or communicating," Meier adds. "This is especially problematic in work settings, where it is important to come across as competent and confident, and not meek or uncertain."
Darcie Brown, LMFT, says that, in addition to showing your insecurities, the word can also bring out your stubborn side. "For example, in an argument, you might say, 'I was just trying to point out that…,' which can come across as stubborn and argumentative," Brown explains. "Under this lies insecurities—you're not willing to truly listen to someone else's opinion and feedback."
Similarly, Cathy Sullivan-Windt, PhD, owner of New Connections Counseling, says the word tends to "shut down a conversation." "Phrases like 'he just needs to move on' is a very black/white perspective and people often use it to prevent further dialogue," she says. "This perspective suggests that one person is right, and the other (you), are wrong."
But "just" is hardly the only common word that can unintentionally reveal your insecurities. For more everyday words to cut out of your vocabulary to make sure you sound confident, read on, and for more problematic phrases, check out The Worst Way You're Thanking Your Partner, Study Says.
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When you use the word "like" too many times as you're explaining something or making a point, it can be an issue. According to relationship expert Jaime Bronstein, LCSW, using the word "like" not only hurts your confidence but also your credibility. "People should say what they need to say and deliver a message without hesitation," Bronstein explains. And for more on language that can make people doubt you, This Word You Use All the Time Makes People Not Trust You, Experts Say.
Of course, apologizing for your mistakes can go a long way. However, saying the word "sorry" when you don't really need to can also deplete your confidence. "You don't need to apologize for something that is helpful for you," Bronstein says. "You don't need to worry that you are bothering other people with anything you're doing or saying." And for another word you should use less frequently, check out The One Word You Use That Makes People Think You're Selfish, Experts Say.
Saying things like "I'll try" when someone asks for your help can both make them think that you don't truly want to lend them a hand and can indicate a lack of trust that you have in yourself. "The word 'try' communicates that either you're not fully on-board, or more likely, that you will give it a shot, but you're not confident that you will succeed," Raghav Suri, PsyD, says. And for more useful daily tips sent to you directly, sign up for our newsletter.
It's safe to say that the phrase "I can't" usually only serves to hold us back from doing something we want to do, but we are afraid to. While it's important to be honest about what you genuinely do and don't want out of life, the phrase "I can't" doesn't express that. "I think 'can't' is a word that often kills confidence because it places limits on us rather than lifting us into the realm of possibilities," says Christie Kederian, LMFT. And for another word that can unintentionally hurt someone you love, check out The One Word You're Saying That's Ruining Your Relationship, Experts Say.