Changing Your Language

I have tons of bad habits. Stress shopping. Eating too much sugar. Watching stupid television shows. Taking cabs unnecessarily. Forgetting to respond to text messages.
One habit though that I didn’t even realize I was doing? Self-sabotaging myself through my language. I must have heard this a number of times in the past year, but I never really examined what my own behavior and habits were. Until I started responding to emails on the subway and saving everything as drafts to be sent when I had connection again.
As I was reviewing the emails, I noticed that I kept adding phrases like “I think…” or “Does that make sense?” simply “sorry,” etc.
Instead of being firm and confident in what I was saying, explaining, or suggesting, I was minimizing my efforts by adding those phrases. Such a simple little thing, but gosh! When I started editing my emails to remove those qualifying (or rather disqualifying) statements, they sounded so much authoritative and confident.
Of course, once I noticed myself writing those statements, I found myself saying them just as frequently. I’ve been working to correct both my writing and my speech, but have found it much much much easier to change the writing so far. If I find myself typing something that sounds too wishy/washy or insecure, I delete it. It’s crazy how the removal of one or two words can make such a huge difference in what I’m trying to convey.
“I think the offer is too low.”
“The offer is too low.”
Yep. The latter sentence is so much more firm. Using “I think” at the beginning just makes me sound unsure. It could possibly be too low, but maybe it is the right. If I think it’s too low, I should say it’s too low.
As I started rephrasing and editing my emails, I brainstormed why I was doing it. Surprisingly it wasn’t because I wasn’t confident… I was worried, I deducted, that I might offend the other person. Basically, I was walking on eggshells and tiptoeing around as to not rock the boat. Frankly…. dumb. Women are notorious for not being confident or for putting themselves down (remember the problem with uptalk?). Here I am, thinking I’m not a statistic. I negotiate! I ask for more! I am a businesswoman! And yet, I’m not actually giving myself a fair chance simply from issues with my choice of language. 
Sheesh! I’m committing to working towards eliminating these phrases from my language!! 
Do you undermine yourself with your language? What phrase do you find yourself using that makes you seem unconfident?

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Jenn @ hello, rigby!

I find myself using phrases like "in my opinion" or "i think" a lot too. i always re-read emails or messages before sending, and try to always catch those unnecessary phrases and delete them too! not only are they disqualifying, but they're also redundant (obviously what you write is what you think! 🙂 )

jenn @ hello, rigby!

Jane Henry

Carly, I understand your sentiment here, but it'd be really useful if you could backup posts like this with some qualifying literature rather than simply your own opinion. Take Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In, for example. She gives some really good examples and fully researched reasons for the way women, specifically, should act and negotiate and it's not as simple as language. It would be extremely useful to point your followers in the direction of some reading, which would be useful to them as young women entering the workplace.


Carly, I find your opinion posts particularly refreshing. As a young adult myself, I look to other young women who share similar thought process. With this post, I was so impressed that I stepped away from my usual sideline audience-ship.

I like how you came to this realization through experience and self-awareness, and made it a point to share and better ourselves. I realized this and began writing in this manner since this January. Its important to embrace your own certainty, as it elevates your level of professionalism. It also puts you on par, in terms of respect, with who are communicating with.

Thanks for your insightful post.


I definitely do this. I had to try my hardest not to say disqualifying things like that when interviewing for a job recently. Since I'm graduating college in a month and getting into a job where I will need to present my ideas on a daily basis, I will definitely need to get better at this.


Oh goodness, I do this all the time. I minimize what I have to say by using the same "fillers" as you described. In my line of work, I realized that by simply taking out those unnecessary words definitely gets my point across better and people seem to have more respect for me.

Rosanne Harris

You should probably re choose your language Carly, considering there are typos in the post. To be honest, I have been a big fan of you Carly for a long time but lately I am feeling less inclined to read you. You keep putting up articles like this one, the negotiation one, the #banbossy one yet how you act on Twitter is the complete opposite. You are bullying people who try to give you constrictive criticism and will no longer follow because of that. You say #banbossy yet you let bully people and make fun of them which is the opposite of #banbossy! It's sad because you are no longer a role model because of how you act– you are 24 not 12.

Meet MMH

I realized the exact same thing in some of my writing last week as well. I was writing a cover letter and at first put "I think I would be the perfect candidate for *insert position here*" but changed it to "I know I am the perfect candidate for *insert same position here*." If I don't believe that I am perfect for the position, why would the person hiring me think I am!

Meggie July

This is so true! I find myself using unsure language in emails when I am in a rush. "I think" is something I try never to use in emails since it does sound so juvenile and unsure! Great post 🙂



It's extraordinarily upsetting to me as well. Unfortunately, I do not know who this person is at all. My recommendation is to block and report the user. Twitter has been extremely responsive with this in the past and the more people who report and block, the quicker the account can be dealt with with Twitter. If she's unsure of how to report it, she can follow the instructions on this page:

By reporting the user, he/she will also be blocked and future messages will not show up on her account as long as she's signed into her profile.

Feel free to email me and I can advise more suggestions!


FYI, I deleted your comment only so the content doesn't appear on the post so others won't be offended by it.

Jane K

Thank you for your response, I genuinely appreciate it. The internet is sadly a dangerous place these days for many people being that you can't control what people write, or if people even are who they say they are, and I am sure it is challenging to have a social media related career.


If you are not affiliated with the person posting the abusive tweets, why haven't you tweeted something to them asking them to cease their, apparently one sided, relationship with you? Because as it stands, it looks like you support the tweets I got telling me to kill myself, and I'd honestly like to think you don't but I have no proof to support that.


The #1 advice both Twitter and my legal counsel have given is to not engage with the user at all. I can report the tweets as anyone else can (and I have), but since they were directed at your Twitter account, it actually holds more weight if you're the one to report.

Follow the steps at this address:

Include as many (i.e. ALL) the Tweets directed specially at you that contain abusive content… There are places where you provide the exact URL of the tweets he/she sent. (Click on the profile, and then click on the timestamp of the tweet to generate a URL for the specific tweets.)

By reporting the user it also blocks the user from showing up on your profile.

Feel free to email me if you have questions/issues with reporting the tweets.


This is so, so true! Even as I approach 30, I notice more and more that a lot of times the way I say things is because I'm afraid of offending someone with my assertiveness. Too bad confidence can't just be put into pill form and swallowed down. 🙂

Erin McFall

This post is so on point!! I do things like this all the time and make myself seem very unsure of who I am and too worried about what other people think…I find that the most confident people know what they want to say and say it with grace and assurance. I wish I could come off that way!!

Forever Young

There is a time and a place for phrases like "I think." etc. If you back up your statement with evidence as to why you think something is the way that it is, you can teach people that they should value your opinions, thoughts, and ideas because they are based on evidence, data, observation, or something else concrete. For example, I have changed minds of people in both my professional and personal lives by saying things like, "I think your offer is too low because the average starting salary for an XXX in this city is $XX,XXX. Why do you think that this position should be compensated at a lower rate?" It shows deference for other people's opinions, but shows folks that you know what you are talking about. That latter part is the thing that will truly earn you respect, trust, and others' confidence.

Jordan @ All The Small Things

This is a fantastic post. I find myself doing things like this all the time.. It's like I am scared of making someone upset, or of being rejected, or of offending someone because they think I didn't like what they said, or all of the above. And I have gotten walked over repeatedly because of it. I think a lot of times, I end up talking people into not valuing my time or the work I do simply because the way I speak doesn't always make it seem like I value my time or my work, so why should they?


Great post! It's so true because we never really think about our words and their effects on the statements we are making. I am going to reblog this on my website for my Public Relations course! (