Successful people know that positive words lead to positive actions, and this cycle repeats itself.
Beyond using their words to help themselves, they also use their words to send good vibes to the people around them. With the help of their communication, successful people do well in their career and have a strong social life.
On the flip side, negative self-talk hampers people’s lives and the lives of those around them. When there’s a reasonable task in front of them, negative words can make it seem impossible. And negative speakers certainly aren’t a joy to be around.
That’s why it’s clear that the words you communicate to yourself and to others make a difference.
So get rid of the negative weight and choose to speak with vocabulary that empowers yourself and others to do great things. To get started, check out these 11 words successful people don’t say and what to say instead.
If you’re like most people, you will say, “I’m going to try to get this done.” But the fact that you’re saying you’re going to try conveys doubt that you will get it done.
You already give yourself an out to not finish it because you never said you will do it, just that you will try.
Instead, commit yourself to an activity and focus until it’s finished. Say “I’ll get this done today,” or if you’re really good say, “I’ll get this done in the next hour.” That confidence will help you get it done and communicate to other people that you’re reliable.
Communication is one of the four main skills employers want, so don’t underrate it.
Replace “try” with: “will”
The word probably is too vague and ambiguous for successful people. It makes the communicator come off as unsure about himself and afraid to take a position one way or the other.
In a group project, think about your frustration if you asked a member to get something done before a deadline and they responded, “I probably can.” No one likes to hear that because it leaves room for alternative interpretations.
People want certainty and assurance that things will go smooth as possible. So give it to them, and they’ll love working with you.
Replace “probably” with: definitive answers
The classic example with maybe is when you ask a group, “Where should we eat?” People will go back and forth with no definitive answer saying maybe that would be good or maybe they would like that.
Telling people maybe only shows you don’t know what you want and contributes nothing to the decision, which is why successful people don’t say the word maybe. It’s far better to make a quick decision, especially on the trivial choices, or at least suggest where you want to go. You’ll come off as confident and assertive instead of unsure.
Replace “maybe” with: “do” or “don’t”
While it can go both ways, “if” is largely used in a negative context to complain or doubt something. It makes you lose focus on taking action and causes you to worry.
Or if you’re not happy at work, don’t look back and wonder if you should have taken a different job. Get active and start looking for a new job.
Live in the present, not in the world of ifs and hypotheticals.
Replace “if” with: “will”
When people say honestly to me, it makes me think what they were saying before wasn’t honest.
And it sends the message that they’re trying too hard to convince me to do something. So they must have some ulterior motive I don’t know about it.
The word is fine by itself, but when it’s overused then it screams sketchy. You don’t want to be seen as not trustworthy because of the way you speak or write. This is especially important when you’re aiming for good interview answers—so don’t use honestly.
Replace “honestly” with: being genuine in your actions and words
The word “but” is my pet peeve on this list. This word’s purpose is to contradict what was just said. Yet so many people don’t make sense when they use this word.
If you don’t agree with what you said in the first part of the sentence, why say it at all if you’re going to then cancel it out with the word “but” in the second half of the sentence? Be concise and mean what you say the first time.
People will appreciate your honesty and straightforwardness.
Replace “but” with: “and”
Possibly the most dangerous word on this list, “never” means 100% not going to happen at any moment. So if you’re reading this, you’re never going to see Alexander the Great in the flesh. You’re never going to have a conversation with your dog in English. Those situations are 100% impossible.
But so many people misuse “never” when talking about possible things and they damage their potential because of it.
While it’s said out of frustration, this word casts a negative cloud over reality. Instead realize that you had a bad day, but you’re going to overcome whatever is in your way if you keep at it.
Replace “never” with: “soon” or “it’s possible”
Similar to never, it’s pretty hard to find things that always happen. So you’re often wrong and feeding a negative view of yourself when you say this word.
For example, if you skip the gym for a week straight, your self-talk will want to overreact with something like, “I’m always going to be out of shape. What’s my problem?”
A healthier response is to say, “I sometimes skip the gym, and I’m going to get back at it tomorrow.” “Always” only condemns yourself, where “sometimes” gives yourself grace and leads to progress.
Replace “always” with: “sometimes”
The people who throw around the word “should” a lot are spending too much time in the past. Mistakes are bound to happen in life and business because no one is perfect.
The difference is below-average and average people spend their time drowning in their mistakes with self-talk like, “I should have done this.” However, successful people recognize their mistake, learn from it, and move on to do better next time.
Replace “should” with: “next time time I got it”
Besides the fact that your professor, boss, or friends hate to hear you say “I can’t,” in 99% of scenarios I bet you can do it. It may be difficult and challenging, but it’s not impossible unless you tell yourself it’s impossible and don’t try.
This negative self-talk from the word cannot has killed so many dreams before they’ve even gotten started it’s ridiculous. Successful people know they can do anything they set their mind to, so they don’t let “can’t” come out of their mouth.
Replace “can’t” with: “will” or “do”
11. Curse words
Cursing around your friends or family is a different story. But in a professional setting, curse words are often more trouble than you ask for. Each time you cuss raises the likelihood you offend someone, even if it’s only one person you’re offending.
That could come back to haunt you in major ways as your professionalism gets called into question. And this is a real concern because a survey by CareerBuilder found that 81% of employers doubt employee’s professionalism when they swear often at work.
So say in the future that the person you made uncomfortable has to decide whether you get promoted, get a raise, or stay on or get fired from the organization. You don’t want them to feel alienated and have a sour thought of you when they decide your fate. Or maybe you don’t get placed on the fun project because the company can’t trust your mouth in front of the client.
So instead of cursing like a sailor and dealing with the trouble after it, keep your mouth clean in professional environments.
Replace “curse words” with: non-curse words like “come on,” “no way,” “are you kidding me”
Remember it’s not so much that these words are bad, but it’s the underlying message that’s communicated by these words. And that communication determines to a large degree how other people perceive you and how you see yourself.
Now that you know what these words communicate to others and yourself, you can upgrade your vocabulary to empowering, positive words.
If you want others to believe in you, you need to believe in yourself and express it. So get rid of that negative self-talk coming from your mouth and watch yourself become more positive and successful.
Often it’s the little tweaks in life that make the biggest difference over time.
Do you agree or disagree that what you say has a large effect on what you do? What words on this list do you say too often? How developed is your vocabulary?
Related post: 101 College Vocabulary Words You Should Know
Life Tip: Never Take Anything Good For Granted
Have you ever had something really good in your life, until you took it for granted and lost it? What a horrible, miserable feeling, right? It’s the worst.
I know from experience.
My senior year of basketball still leaves a sour taste in my mouth thinking about it.
It’s strange though because it started out good, like really good.
After thousands of hours of insane dedication to practice my basketball craft and improve my shooting, dribbling, passing, defending, and rebounding, I reached a dream of mine: make the starting lineup for the St. Xavier Bombers varsity basketball team.
Not only that, my first game of the year couldn’t have been better considering I only played 14 minutes the entire game. The stat line below proves it.
And we won the game by 23 points. Everything is going smooth, until it wasn’t.
From the next game through the last game of the year it was all downhill.
Let me explain.
The Lost & Final Basketball Season
Let’s just say I was a different guy in high school. Now I’m all motivated and focused on building my businesses and leaving a legacy.
But the 18-year-old Brian was all about wreaking havoc and having a good time above all.
To express himself at school or during basketball team activities, he’d go as far as he could to toe the line of breaking the rules for pure laughs and excitement. Often he crossed the line.
Here are some of the reckless things I did during that basketball season:
- After receiving a hard foul when driving to the basket, I stayed on the ground and racked off 5 push ups before shooting foul shots
- On the bench during a pre-season game, I grabbed my phone and sent a tweet out to my Twitter followers explaining what I just did (tweeted during the game)
- Ruined team pictures by putting a 3 goggles sign on my thigh, so the school had to retake them a week later
- Stormed the refs locker room after a frustrating overtime loss when a bunch of questionable calls went against us
- Put a teammate in a headlock during a shoot around hours before a game
- And a lot more crazy stuff
That’s not close to all of the bad-boy moves.
I don’t know if you realize this, but it’s hard to play solid basketball and stay in the coaching staff’s good graces when you’re messing around whenever you can. It doesn’t work out well.
That’s why it’s to no shock looking back that I got suspended twice. The first time I had to sit out two quarters against our biggest rival. And then I was suspended a full week from the team later in the year.
Not to mention a bunch of other disciplinary issues and conflicts with coaches that I don’t have time nor want to discuss.
It all boils down to the fact that my antics sabotaged my final year of basketball.
After the season ended, the problem was I couldn’t go back in time to stay focused on basketball and give it my 100% again. That ship had sailed. The opportunity was gone.
So I had to, and now have to, live with regret when thinking back to that year and what could have been.
But regret about not appreciating the game of basketball isn’t the only thing I received from that experience. It’s the unforgettable lesson: never take anything good for granted.
Fortunately I learned this lesson at age 18, not 48.
Never Take It For Granted
Thanks to my failure that year, I developed a wiser perspective to appreciate the good things in my life.
So now I know never to take my work, my company, my clients, my health, my friends, my family, and life in general for granted. Regret is the worst feeling out there so I want to live in a way that eliminates it.
Where maybe if my senior year basketball season went smoother I’d never have learned the full extent of that lesson. Who knows? Maybe something far worse than a disappointing basketball season could have went down.
But because of the outcome I get to hold that experience in my back pocket going forward. I turned a scar into an advantage.
Although it’s always cool for me to flip negative experiences into positive ones, it’d be even better if I didn’t have to learn the hard way.
Truth is you don’t have to be a dummy like me.
I don’t know what your “it” is (I can guess it’s your family, friends, faith, career, pets, house, teachers, and country). I do know you need to never take it for granted if you want what’s best out of your life.
Also, don’t forget to appreciate the little things that come and go during the passing days.
It could be your peaceful commute to work where you’re alone with your thoughts. It could be the Monday morning cup of coffee you can afford without thinking about. Or it can be your place’s proximity to the beach that other people would kill to have.
Never taking life’s big and small gifts for granted is a big step to living the good life.
And there’s another reason to have this mindset: you don’t want to mess around with regret.
Regret Is Brutal, Eliminate It
Regret is the worst feeling out there in my opinion.
Sadness sucks but you can become happy again. Anger isn’t fun but you can eventually relax and get over it.
But regret, there’s no way to reverse it and recover. It sticks with you the rest of your life. That’s why it’s brutal.
Your only solution is to do your best job to eliminate it at all times by both being super grateful for what’s good in your life and staying focused to keep it going well.
If you are unappreciative and lose focus, there’s sometimes no going back from there. Your fate is often sealed once the moment ends.
I want my life to be filled with as little regret as possible. That’s part of the ingredients for a great life, in my humble opinion.
Don’t you agree? Please join me in this effort to never take anything good for granted.
Brian, Promise You’ll Never Stop Writing
Hey guys, to celebrate video number 40 on my YouTube channel I put together a different kind of video.
Here I share a personal story and value I hold dear to my heart. It’s all about my relationship with writing and how it’s went from zero to hero in my life.
I hope you enjoy the video and feel inspired!
If you’re interested, here’s the transcript:
Let’s first take it back to high school. You sucked at writing. Just like all of your other classes, you hated it and let your teachers know by your classroom antics or naps, and doing the bare-minimum on papers.
Writing never interested you because it was a part of the school system you went to war against.
Brian this is a note to your future self.
Things changed your freshman year of college. You wanted to be a big time lawyer, and writing soon became your major since top lawyers know how to read and write well. So you needed to write, and write well, to get a top GPA and reach your dreams. And you did.
But things changed again. You said see ya to law school, hello entrepreneur land and started the blog takeyoursuccess.com. That meant constant writing, and hours of it to publish 2-3 posts a week for the past few years. And then you became an author from your writing, already accomplishing a major achievement on your bucket list through this method of communication.
Now writing is your daily routine as much as breathing and eating is. Writing is your public and personal journal, the world sees it but you know the heart of what’s behind the words and the words unsaid. Writing is magical to you.
Although you’re a business owner, author, and coach, at the end of the day, remember your journey all started from a blog, from writing. You’re a writer, writing your story as you go, figuring it out piece by piece, and telling the world, striving to create your legacy one word at a time.
So note to future self, never stop writing. You wouldn’t be the same without it. And all great stories have a storyteller. You happen to be your own storyteller, just how you like it.
What’s your story?
What do you want to tell your future self to commit to?
What’s magical to you?
I hope by hearing part of my story you find clarity in your story. Because we’re all in this thing called life together, so let’s make the most of it.
The Art Of Negotiation: Care Less
The art of negotiation is truly an art. Either you’re skilled enough to win, or you’ll stumble to the finish line as a loser. Those are the only two possible outcomes.
Depending on the deal, the difference in winning and losing could mean securing your dream job or entering unemployment, getting a deal or getting ripped off $10 grand, and building a million dollar business or going bankrupt.
But like many things in life—how to write a winning resume, who to marry, how to make money, how to invest—no one teaches negotiation.
Our parents: only if we’re lucky. The school system: fails at this. The government: nope.
If government and corporations had it their way, we’d never learn to negotiate so we would have to take the short stick without complaining. That’s just wrong.
Since you’re reading this article, you’re on the right path though. Because the first step is to want to know how to negotiate better.
The second step is to learn how…
“He Who Cares Less, Wins”
Emotions can often be helpful.
For example, you should feel love toward the person you’re about to marry before you go through with it. Duh!
Or you should feel sad when your parents are getting old and sick. That sadness can help you appreciate them better and prioritize quality time going forward.
But in the negotiation arena, emotions will kill you before you know it. It’ll be like a sniper with his finger on the trigger and a red dot on your chest—it’s already too late for you.
Why do emotions kill negotiation ability? It’s mainly because feelings cloud judgement.
Your brain focuses on how it’s feeling instead of reason, logic, and answering does the math work for you to go forward. Insecurities also come into play, which can make you do the opposite of what you intended.
Clouded judgement leads to rash decisions and often buyer’s remorse.
It also costs you real dollars.
This study found anxious negotiators were more likely to take deals 12% less financially attractive than their counterparts. If it’s a 12% loss off a $500,000 mortgage, we’re talking about $60,000. That’s a big deal!
But consider someone’s approach who couldn’t care less about winning the deal: They’re relaxed. They speak clearly and listen carefully. And they’re focused on the specific details of what they’re getting and giving.
Not to mention they hold the leverage because they don’t need the deal. If it helps them they’ll take it, but by no means are they getting on their hands and knees to beg for it like a dog.
It’s not hard to figure out that someone who is relaxed and focused performs better than someone who is scatterbrained and under pressure.
This explains precisely why caring less helps you win.
Plus, when you care less, you can’t lose. You either win the deal on your terms or you leave it on the table as a draw.
Caring less is precisely how you ensure you never make a bad deal that takes the shirt off your back. Those deals are the unrecoverable ones that will leave you unable to sleep at night.
Let’s check out how caring less comes to play out in day-to-day scenarios.
Real Life Negotiations
Negotiation happens everywhere, all the time.
You probably just miss it or don’t label them as deal-making.
To open your eyes and get a grip on how this goes down, read these four examples about how negotiating the right way changes the entire landscape.
1. Grad school admissions: Whether a grad school accepts you and how much money they give you comes down to 100% negotiation.
The university is negotiating to get the best students in their class (and fill the seats to make money). You’re negotiating to get into the school and make the best choice for yourself.
If you’re a top candidate with acceptances to all the elite schools, the game is on to negotiate the best offer package. You’ll want to negotiate for a fat scholarship, maybe a stipend, and see if you can get anything else (like a teaching assistant job) to entice you to come.
If you have average grades and admissions test scores, you’re playing a game of negotiating to get into better schools with no scholarship or less reputable ones with scholarship money. Use the acceptances into the better schools as leverage to get more money.
2. Buying a car: This is the classic negotiation scenario used from personal finance bloggers to authors. (Maybe because just about everyone buys a car and has room to negotiate.)
If you’re like most people, you’ll arrive at the lot and make a beeline to the car you want. Then tell the salesman, “I’ve always wanted this car. It’s perfect. How much is it?”
Their signals are telling them you’re an easy sale and to negotiate little. You cost yourself potentially thousands of dollars.
But say you come back another day after reading this article and bring a more tactical approach. Instead of making a straight shot to one car, you tell the salesman, “I don’t have any particular car in mind. I’m not sure I really need a car to be honest. Just had some free time and wanted to look around.”
You ask about a few car prices then “randomly” stumble on the one you actually want to ask the price, without being too excited (care less).
This is how the playing field gets tilted. The salesman is now the desperate one trying to both find you the right car and sell it to you.
And when you negotiate, you have to make an offer and be prepared to walk away with nothing (that’s a draw not a loss). There are plenty of stories where someone walks and the dealer calls them back the next day to drop the price to get the deal done.
This scenario works when buying a house, motorcycle, boat, and all other related-purchases.
3. Job offer and salary package: I feel strongly about this one. You have to negotiate your salary if you like yourself!
There’s free money on the other side if you do this well. That’s why I dedicated an entire section of my money book to salary negotiation, and have written about this multiple times on TYS. (See here and here.)
Let’s break it down (assuming you’ve been offered the job): The company is negotiating to get you on their team at a fair (or cheap) price, and you’re negotiating to get the job at a higher price.
Communicating you have other employment options and while you’d love to work here you know you may have to decline the deal, can often make the employer want you more. Odds are they fork over the extra money and hope you pan off as a long-term investment.
But if you don’t know how to negotiate and say, “I accept this,” the second after they tell you the salary offer, there’s no extra money for you. The reason you have less money is all your fault.
4. Business projects: Business comes down to negotiation across the board. If you’re an employee, freelancer, or small business owner, you need to know how to persuade the other side to get the deal and price you want.
Bad business negotiation means being in a place of desperation where you take contracts even if it’s 10%, 25%, or 50% your normal rate. The desperation will come through in your communication and be the reason you get taken advantage of in broad daylight.
A smart employee should recognize your company’s price is your price, and not care if you lose the deal because the person on the other side only values cheap labor, and not high quality work.
A freelancer should know the value in their work, price it accordingly, and have a take it or leave it mentality with clients. There’s always more work to be won instead of compromising your skill for cheap labor.
A business owner should double their rates to bring in more revenue (assuming they have a solid product, sales, and marketing), while not caring if they lose their smaller clients. That’s the quickest way to bring in more money, and it sure beats getting nickel and dimed on project rates.
Everything is negotiable.
Knowing that, it’s your job to care less by having more options on the other side in case you don’t get what you want.
How do you get more options? The single best way is to work hard and provide value so you become financially well off.
Poor people are often in desperate, emergency-like situations where they can’t afford to shop around for a smart transaction. Where the rich have more time and opportunities to ensure they win the negotiation.
With wealth also comes the freedom to need less and become beholden to no one. This self-reliance empowers you at the negotiation table to only make deals if the numbers make sense to you.
You’re in a position of power when you’re finances are taken care of regardless what happens in these daily negotiations.
As you keep living, keep your eye out for negotiations big and small. Seeing them go down will give you mental reps and prepare you for your day-to-day negotiations.
Caring less about what you want, ironically gives you a better chance of getting it.
Related: Everything Is Negotiable