Whether it’s fair or not, the way you speak leads most people to make assumptions about who you are, your background, and your level of education.
Many people use “filler” words which clutter up their speech and make them sound less competent than they really are. In modern times, when text messages outnumber calls, “emojis” are multiplying faster than rabbits. Millions of people worldwide strive to cram their ideas into 140 characters or less – and to make every word count. If you select your words carefully, people will place greater value on your thoughts and ideas!
Wondering how to sound smarter? If you want to sound more intelligent in your daily communication and ensure your every word has meaning, limit your use of these words:
The word “very” has often been called one of the most useless words in the English language. It does not communicate enough information to be used by intelligent speakers. If you choose your adjectives accurately, you rarely need to use “very”. As Mark Twain said, “Use the right word, not its second cousin.”
Does your dinner taste “very good”? No, it’s “delicious”. Do you feel “very sad”? No, you’re “depressed”? Be more specific; “very” is a weak and subjective way of describing your world.
“Really” is one of those “penny words” writers throw in to magnify other words; however, it fails spectacularly in this role. “Really” is an inadequate descriptive word and doesn’t add anything important to your communication. For example: “The player performed really excellently.“ Sounds weird, doesn’t it? You lose nothing by cutting “really” from your sentences and you gain simplicity and function.
In most of cases, “that” is unnecessary. If you can eliminate this word from your sentences, please do! Did the book that you read inspire you? No, the book you read inspired you.
Also, make sure you don’t use “that” when referring to humans. Do you know people that work in the retail industry? No, you don’t. You know people who work in the retail industry.
Take the saying “Never say never” to heart. Speaking as if you know an absolute truth makes you appear close-minded. “Always” (the opposite of “never”) is also rarely (if ever) true.
If you use “maybe” too often, you present yourself as insecure and uninformed. If you aren’t convinced what you’re saying is true, Google it (or just don’t say it). When you use “maybe”, you transmit a lack of confidence more strongly than your meaning, which diminishes the potency of your communication.
If you use “honestly” to emphasize certain parts of a message, people may wonder if you weren’t being honest in the rest of your communication. Maintain your audience’s trust at all costs!
People often misuse the word “literally” to intensify a verb or an adjective. “Literally” doesn’t mean “truly” or “greatly”; it means “exactly” or “precisely”. By the way, the opposite of “literally” is “figuratively”. Don’t misuse “literally” in an effort to exaggerate your meaning.
Once you stop using “literally” and “really”, can you still use cute little “actually”? No way! It may take time and effort to eliminating unnecessary words, but “actually” has to go, as well.
Overusing “things” (or even worse, “stuff”) is one of the fastest ways to sound uneducated. These words are simply too vague to use. For instance: “The author said a lot of things and stuff.” Doesn’t this sound dumb? If the specific details of your “stuff” or “things” aren’t important enough to share, why bring it up at all? Don’t burden your readers with the task of figuring out what you’re referring to.
Indeed, dropping the occasional “f-bomb” can make your messages more powerful – if that’s the tone you want in your messages. However, if you do this too often, you can be perceived as offensive, ignorant, and rude. Use curse words only when necessary; they can become a bad habit much faster than you might think.