The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
—George Bernard Shaw

How high would you rate your communication skills? Is your message consistently understood, and are you pleased with your delivery?

Some of us excel at gathering our thoughts and speaking with clear intent almost simultaneously; others of us need a bit more time to plan our message.

Lou Solomon, a communication consultant for Fortune 500 companies, shares that our verbal mistakes will “undermine our credibility and distract from our message”, and it will also impact our ability to influence others.

To be more effective leaders, Ms. Solomon suggests dropping the following phrases from our vocabulary:

1. “I’m confused,” or “I don’t get it.”
Instead of putting all the responsibility on the other person, take co-ownership. Say, “Help me understand your position,” and remain open.

2. “You know what I mean?” and “Does that make sense?”
Asking for constant validation chips away at your command.

3. “I was like…” or “She was like…”
The word “like” is an unsophisticated setup that gets in the way of your clarity and credibility.

4. “Um, ah, uh, you know.”
Watch out for overuse of filler words and practice pausing to counteract the clutter.

5. “I’ve been too busy” or “I started writing an email and forgot to send it.”
Excuses are unattractive. Say, “I apologize for the inconvenience. You will have it by tomorrow.”

6. “Out-of-the-box thinking”
… should be retired. We can’t escape all the buzzword phrases, but ones like this have become boring.

7. “You always…”
Sweeping generalizations lack insight and get in the way of healthy dialogue. Be specific and avoid using vague blame tactics.

8. “I think we should kind of do it this way.”
Tentative language waters down your presence as a confident communicator. Make a solid recommendation and own it.

9. “I hate to say this, but…” and “John is a good person, but…”
Don’t try to disguise criticism with a layer of caring or say things that offer zero value.

10. “Really?”
It’s an all-purpose complaint that sounds like whining. Try making an interesting observation instead.

If you’re like us, when you read through the “WHAT NOT TO SAY” list, a few will stand out and make you give thought as to which one to drop first.

As leaders, there’s a need to be viewed as credible, authentic, and purposeful. Take the time you need to consistently deliver a message that’s understood. What’s your first action step?