5 Words to Ditch From Your Vocabulary ASAP, Experts Say

Avoiding these terms may actually help you sound smarter, nicer, and more confident.

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Other people form their perception of you through multiple means, from the clothes you wear to the way you carry yourself and even to the words you use. Language plays a big role in the way you make yourself feel, and also how you look and sound to other people. For instance, using certain words may make you seem a lot smarter to your peers. But other words can make you seem less intelligent, less sure of yourself, or even just less likable. To avoid putting yourself into any of these boxes, stop using these five words. And for more terms you need to avoid, check out the 4 Words the Dictionary Says You Should Stop Using.

1
Just

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The word "just" is often used as a filler word, but it has the ability to soften whatever you're trying to say—and not necessarily in a good way. It often makes you appear less confident.

That's because it's usually transformed in other people's minds as the synonym "merely" when used as an adverb. So if you're saying, "I was just wondering," other people may hear it as "I was merely wondering." And the experts at Red Shoes PR say the word merely comes across as "diminished, disingenuous and defensive," which makes someone seem like they have less expertise in what they're discussing. And for another vocabulary lesson, check out the 20 Words You Won't Believe Are in the Dictionary Now.

2
But

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There is really no good way to use "but" in a conversation. After all, it typically has the power to negate anything said before it. And that's not all. "It can also be perceived as a way to diminish or undercut the object of the sentence or the person being spoken to," Liz Kislik, a management consultant, executive coach, and facilitator, explains on her website.

That doesn't mean you need to stop giving critiques or feedback when communicating—it just means you need to change the way in which you word it. Kislik says you can do that by using one of two different words: "and" or "now." The word "and" makes it feel as if you're adding to rather than contradicting whatever you said before, which "helps people feel more open," Kislik says. And "now," when used after a pause, can take on the sense of "next," which makes people feel like you're leading to something positive in the future rather than undercutting what you said before.

3
Should

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The word "should" allows us to actively criticize ourselves, Sophie Mort, a clinical psychologist from the United Kingdom, explains on her website. When using the word "should," it suggests that "we don't accept who or where we are," she says. And even this small form of rejection towards ourselves can mess with our minds.

Mort says this rejection can create anxiety and stress, which can actually "shut down our brains ability to problem solve and to maintain attention to a new task." And that means that we won't actually be able to do the things we think we "should," creating a cycle of stress within ourselves. For splendiferous words you may want to incorporate into your daily speech, check out The 50 Most Beautiful Words in the English Language—And How to Use Them.

4
Always

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It highly unlikely that the word "always" is ever used truthfully. After all, it's rare that anything is ever done or true all of the time. And even though this word is common, it's most often used as an exaggeration. The experts at Kinexus, a workplace recruitment agency, explain that the word "always" can raise questions about the "authenticity of what you're saying," and it also "brings in to question the statements you've made where always was excluded." Therefore, it may be best to always leave this word out.

5
Can't

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Not only can the word "can't" create negative emotions and also make way for self-criticism (like "should"), there's actual research that proves using the word "can't" is bad for you. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that those who use the word "can't" when confronted with a temptation were less likely to resist the temptation compared to those using the word "don't." So not only can the word "can't" make you feel bad, it also make may you feel less in control. And for more useful content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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