Usually when we want to be more confident, we’re told to do this and that. Instead of adding, what about getting rid of some of our habits? We have learned these habits as children. And often we learned them by watching our elders engaging in conversation. Polite conversation is probably one of the worst things we learned because it teaches that our opinions and knowledge are not valued when we assert them.
Below are 3 things people often use in conversations that largely decrease their persuasive power. Remember less is more. When you can cut these 3 kinds of language from your conversation, you’ll instantly become sound more confident and convincing.
1. Hedges Are a No-No
Hedges are defined as vague language and are often considered to be “polite” conversation. It allows you to engage without asserting yourself. Some examples are:
These words imply that you are unbiased or avoiding persuading anyone to agree. While that could be okay in some situations, for the most part, you really need to avoid those words and use powerful words instead that portray your authority. Examples are:
By using the above words, you assert that you know plenty about the subject at hand and wish to persuade another with your knowledge.
2. Avoid Disclaimers
In legal terms, disclaimer statements are to prevent any incorrect understanding of a subject. People are more likely to use this type of language when they question their own confidence in their knowledge. Often, we are more knowledgeable than we realize and relegate to unconfident language. Some examples of disclaimers are:
- “I am not completely sure, but….”
- “I am not an authority on the subject, but….”
- “It could go either way, but…”
One common theme you see is the use of hedges and negative language to relegate the speaker into an unconfident realm. The other common denominator is the use of the word “but” after the use of negative and/or hedge language. This can become a bad habit and it’s best to practice changing it. When you find yourself about to use the disclaimer language, try one of these:
- “I am certain that…..”
- “I recently learned…..”
- “It will go [insert opinion]…..”
3. Stay Away from Tagging
Tag questions are just one more habit many of us have when we are engaged in conversation. Here are a few examples of tag questions:
- “… don’t you agree?”
- “… don’t you think?”
- “… right?”
- “… wouldn’t it?”
The biggest concern with tag questions is that they convey us as seeking validation for our opinion. However, highly confident speakers do not seek out validation to their points. The best way to combat the use of tag questions is to avoid using any question for validation at the end of your statement. If you pose a question, it should be nothing more than “Any questions?”.
Remember again, less is more.