It’s easy to take for granted the terms of speech we use every day, but language has meaning. Words have meaning. Phrases have meaning. If I say that I think I can make the airport in time, then that connotes an entirely different sense than saying I know I can make the airport in time. Which phrase would you rather hear if you were waiting at the airport for a passenger pickup?
The words you choose to use or omit communicate just how confident, self-assured or optimistic you feel. Consider the following words in your everyday speech and how their associated meanings influence you, the listener and the conversation for better or worse:
1. “I guess”. You guess? You guess? What does that even mean? Well, I’ll tell you what it means to guess. Hearing “I guess” connotes weakness, a lack of clarity and disempowerment, and is right up there at the top of the “do not use” list next to “maybe.” Avoid saying “I guess” if you want to sound more assertive.
2. “Can’t”. This is a typical replacement for “won’t,” however each connotes entirely different degrees of power and proactivity.
3. “Supposed to.” When you hear somebody say that he or she was supposed to do [insert chore here] but didn’t, what he or she really meant was that they had the best of intentions but some mysterious, outside influence compelled them to act otherwise. First, see “can’t” above. Then, replace “supposed to” with “I will” or “I intend,” as these convey a firm, positive perspective.