Warning: You may hate me after reading this. Most people tell me they love what they learn, but there are some that – while laughing –  tell me they begrudgingly think of me every time they hear these words.

One leadership skill has gained less exposure than listening, giving feedback, strong networks…skills I fully promote as keys to the success of your career. The best-kept secret, however, to advance your career – is your LANGUAGE choice. The words you use.

Yes, your vocabulary. You spend your day influencing and impacting those around you. You intend to do this in a positive manner. And yet, chances are you are unintentionally using language that is undermining your career.

Words and phrases to stop using TODAY:

  1. If you have a minute
  2. This may be a dumb question, but
  3. Maybe I should
  4. I think (when making a recommendation or suggestion)
  5. I am not an expert
  6. This may not work
  7. I might
  8. Actually
  9. I’m thinking of
  10. SORRY…the worst offender

This is not an easy change to implement. It doesn’t happen overnight. With consciousness and focus, you can make this change. Start with focusing on 1 or 2 words. Eliminate those from your vocabulary. Start with your written language. Of course, it is easier to re-read and delete in emails and documents, than it is while speaking. Try the Just Not Sorry plugin. As you focus on it in your writing, you will notice a difference in your speaking too. Slow down while talking. Think about what you want to say before you speak.

As leaders, no matter your industry, organization, or role, you influence over those around you. Share this knowledge with them. Let them know you want to help them excel their careers, and this is a (relatively) easy way to do it. Point out where and when they are using weak language. This will help you make this change as well.

I have a lot of practice with this with a teenager and a tween at home. I am constantly, much to their annoyance, asking them to repeat themselves without the word ‘like’.

Try it today! Find an opportunity to eliminate a word when you’re convincing or influencing someone. Even if its to empty the dishwasher.

What language do you notice is weak? What other words would you recommend taking out of your vocabulary?