Too many leaders today negatively impact their credibility through their word choice, such as “I think we should kind of sort of enter this new market.” Hedges are phrases such as “I think,” “sort of,” or “kind of” that litter much of our communication. Repeated use of hedging language reduces perceptions of your competence because it softens your assertiveness, reduces your clarity, and makes you seem wishy-washy and unsure of what you are saying.
The best way to address hedging is via substitution. Find stronger, more powerful words to replace these less assertive ones. For example, “I think” becomes “I believe” or “I know.” “Kind of” and “sort of” can be replaced with “one way.” Finding more assertive substitutions affords you a way to make your point more clearly and definitively. However, before you can substitute, you must first become aware of your use of hedging language. Thankfully, apps exist that can provide useful, personalized feedback on your language use. Apps such as Orai, LikeSo, Ummo, Ambit and Voice Vibes provide specific information and insight about your word choice – along with pacing, pauses, variation, and tone.
August 13, 2019