In my last job, I had this one colleague who had a flair for always bringing down the conversational vibe.
Bless them—I don’t think they even realized they did it.
They were like a magnet for self-doubt, always questioning themselves and their ideas in a public setting.
Every chat with them turned into an instant pity party, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them.
This particular colleague not only taught me the power of kindness and gentle encouragement, but you know what?
They also taught me to never be this kind of conversationalist. Sorry, to be a little harsh… but this much I know is true!
If you’re wondering about the kinds of phrases they dropped in conversation, and in turn, the ones a confident person would never say aloud, boy do I have the article for you.
Let’s get started.
1) “It’s probably a stupid idea, but…”
Ever catch yourself ruling out one of your opinions or thoughts without even giving it a chance to breathe?
Well, this is something self-assured people tend to avoid.
Confident communicators understand how important language is in serving them and their goals.
They know that the way you present an idea to a person directly shapes the way it’s received and perceived.
Starting off with all of this doubt, by saying “It’s probably a stupid idea, but…” is simply not doing you any favors!
Would a heart surgeon tell a patient’s spouse that they’re worried they might drop the scalpel? Would a Michelin chef tell a food critic that they don’t know how to boil an egg?
The idea is to showcase your skills with confidence and pluck, leaving no room for people to cast unfair amounts of doubt onto you.
2) “If you think that’s good, this is actually better”
People who exude confidence tend to steer clear of one-upmanship. Why?
Because they let their own excellence speak for itself.
For this reason, they will never utter a line, like: “If you think that’s good, this is actually better.”
Asserting dominance through direct comparisons is a bit of a vibe kill.
Confident people actually thrive on positive and uplifting interactions, avoiding the need to one-up, or be better than, others.
Their motto might be: it’s not about being competitive, it’s about being collaborative and inclusive.
Instead of trying to overshadow someone else’s idea, experience, or success, they genuinely and wholeheartedly celebrate it, fostering a sense of teamwork.
Plus saying something like this line is a surefire example of comparison, aka that old thief of joy!
Self-assured individuals are secure in their abilities and wins and don’t need to hold them in relation to others.
They know not to feel threatened, rather, they feel inspired.
3) “You probably don’t want to talk to me”
Projecting a subservient, defeatist attitude by saying “You probably don’t want to talk to me” isn’t exactly a magnet for great chat.
When you’re putting yourself out there, it’s important to anticipate the best case scenario rather than the worst.
This is something confident people know this on a deeper level.
Saying a line like this immediately puts the other person in the spotlight, demanding that they reassure you and validate you—and trust me, this can be exhausting and draining for the other person.
It can absolutely come across as a misguided attempt at humility.
People with confidence tend not to make quick assumptions and judgments about others’ preferences without giving them a fair chance.
Instead, they step into chatting with an open mind, ready to connect authentically and naturally.
4) “Do you hate me?”
This last point ties in nicely to this one. As I said, people enjoy speaking to others who aren’t outwardly seeking validation, or simmering in self-pity.
Asking someone: “Do you hate me?” during a conversation can be cringeworthy, to say the least.
Firstly, it oozes insecurity, which of course, self-assured folks try their best to avoid.
Secondly, it creates a negative sentiment which in turn builds an atmosphere of tension.
5) “Wait, you’ve never heard of this?”
This next one is a little reminiscent of one upmanship, but it’s a little more subtle and stealthier.
Uttering the phrase, “Wait, you’ve never heard of this?” can leave an awkward hush in its wake.
Now, let’s break down why. What’s the actual message behind it?
It’s not just curiosity, rather, it’s a way of saying, “I’m in the know… and you’re not.”
And this is definitely not the foot we want to set off on—particularly if the aim is to come across as self-assured.
Confidence is not about making others feel small in order to feel big.
Rather than poking fun at someone’s lack of awareness on a particular topic or cultural touchstone, be ready to naturally and casually share this knowledge.
Remember, the goal is to uplift rather than belittle them and make them feel as if they are out of the loop.
I like to remind myself that often, the most captivating people in a room are the ones who make everyone feel welcome and like they have a seat at the table.
6) “I am going to ask a dumb question…”
Ever felt the urge to say, “I am going to ask a dumb question…”?
Well, this sentence happens to be a no-go for those who exude self-assurance.
Spoiler alert: there’s no such thing as a dumb question.
Questions happen to be the very building blocks of learning, guiding us on our path to knowledge and enlightenment.
Let’s face it—no one has all the answers! No one! So playing down, or apologizing for, your own curiosity and imagination is not a great way to navigate any conversation.
Remember, questions are not a display of weakness or inferiority, but a manifestation of intellect.
7) “Am I being annoying?”
One great thing about confident people is that they steer clear of painting themselves in an overly negative light, nor do they pigeonhole themselves by asserting they have a certain set of limitations or flaws.
By asking, “Am I being annoying?” you are not showing confidence.
Instead, you are again placing the onus on the other person to provide reassurance.
Of course, confident individuals know that seeking external approval is a futile effort—it has to come from within.
8) “Are you sure about that?”
If you’d like to come across as self-assured, asking the question “Are you sure about that?” is one guaranteed way to not do that.
This line, which can also manifest as, “Have you done your research on that one?” both carry undertones of condescension.
Why? It implies a lack of trust in the other person’s judgment.
Imagine passionately sharing your thoughts, and someone goes ahead and calls the validity of what you say into question.
Instead of nurturing a healthy back-and-forth in the conversation, you’ve unintentionally added an unnecessary layer of skepticism.
Someone who is confident in social settings is able to make their way through discussions without making others feel as if they are on trial.
How about replacing those subtly undermining questions with something that’s a little more respectful?
A simple tweak on your reply can transform the tone into one of genuine curiosity rather than doubt and judgment.
To sum things up, phrases like these can bring a negative vibe to a conversation because they reflect a mindset of self-doubt, insecurity, and a strong need for external validation.
They might even create an atmosphere of negativity and may make others uncomfortable or unsure of how to respond to you.
Instead of fostering a positive, fun, and constructive dialogue, these questions can instead introduce a cycle of negativity and hinder meaningful back-and-forth.
It’s important to be mindful to try to be mindful of the tone and content of what we say to others in order to work towards a more uplifting conversation, as well as a healthier sense of ourselves.
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