12 Verbal Mistakes That Cost You Credibility and Presence

By Lou Solomon

Home / Interact Studio Stories & Articles / 12 Verbal Mistakes That Cost You Credibility and Presence

In every conversation or presentation, you have an opportunity to be your best, authentic self and say something real.

But too often, we just say the same things we said yesterday. We make sweeping generalizations, and we use worn-out words.

If you want to build credibility and influence, consider dropping these 12 practices:

1.) “I, I, I.”

If you hear yourself saying “I” too often, you may be talking about yourself too much or doing a little humble bragging. If you want to build influence, ask great questions and listen more than you talk.

2.) Story Stealing.

When someone shares a story, let them have the moment. Resist the temptation to tell your story. It might be well-intentioned, but you end up stealing the first story’s importance.

3.) “I was like…”

“I was like…” or “She was like…” These are awkward setups that get in the way of your credibility.

4.) Blowing first impressions.

Be awake to every introduction, look people in the eye, and show interest. Verify the individual’s name. If you’re distracted, you blow a valuable first impression.

5.) Right?

“Right?” and “You know what I mean?” are tags we put on statements to ask for validation. If you use them too much, they will chip away from your command.

6.) “I’m sorry, but you should have…”

If you owe someone an apology, don’t attach it to an excuse. Take complete responsibility and let the apology do its excellent work.

7.) Non-word clutter.

“Um, ah, uh, you know, so” are fillers we use between statements when we talk non-stop. You can prevent them by learning to pause.

8.) Generalizations.

Sweeping statements about organizations and groups of people are not a good look.

9.) Weak language.

“Maybe we should kind of do it this way” is a weak statement. Instead, make it count: “I believe this is the right path.”

10.) Tired vocabulary.

Pick a word-a-day app to help you expand your vocabulary. Build a list of new words that resonate with you. Do it for your own enjoyment and not to impress others.

11.) “I’m confused.”

Too often, this statement is meant to make the other person feel as though they don’t communicate well, and what it really means is, “I don’t like where the conversation is going.”

12.) Interrupting.

Let people finish their thoughts. One of the top-reported complaints about interpersonal communication is being interrupted.


Your communication habits are more than habits. They are the way we experience you and think of you. If you want to enjoy more credibility and influence, be more intentional in your communication.

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