There are so many ways that we weaken and water down our communications. Language…body language, speech, etc impacts the way the world sees and feels us, so it’s nothing to be ignored. Practice tracking some of these weakening influences for a few weeks and you’ll see what I’m saying!
Stop saying “I’m sorry” immediately! You can be more creative if you lightly bump into another person…”oh, excuse me.” You can be more creative if you are in an awkward situation reaching for something at the same time as a stranger…”(make a joke) shall we arm wrestle for it?” If you actually hurt someone… “my apologies, I didn’t know that was important to you. I’ll pay closer attention next time.” Perhaps the only instance when I’m sorry may be applicable is if your offering consolations, such as…”I’m sorry for your loss.” In our culture we start making kids say I’m sorry for every little thing even before their brains have a concept of what that means…the message we are sending is: If you’re sorry, you’re a good person. I call bullshit on this social norm.
I’ve referred to this in other places, but NEVER say “yes” when you really mean “no.” This is a huge topic. The first important thing is to know for yourself in your gut when something is a no or a yes for you. This is big. If you only work on one thing…this is the one!
Do you know how to use the term “literally” correctly? Here's crash course on how to use this word...if you have a shirt with hearts on it, you can say "I, literally, wearing my heart on my sleeve." It's funny and cleaver when appropriate. Perhaps people are using "literally" as just another way to put emphasis on their point? There are other ways to do that.
More and more people are using the phrase "kind of" before expressing true opinions and feelings. Listen for it and you will hear things like "I kind of think that I want to quit my job" or "I kind of want you to know I care about you." In both of these cases, what is "kind of" doing here?...watering down the sentiment and making communication unclear. Sometimes “sort of” stands in for “kind of”…same effect.
"You know" has become a filler phrase similar to "like." Does the person using this phrase really think you know? Probably not. More likely, it's a phrase to help curb anxiety while speaking, becomes a habit and is hard to stop saying after the habit is formed.
Saying “you” when you are talking about your own experience and “I” is the appropriate word. THIS IS A BIG ONE!!! This is about our cultures tendency to live outside of our own bodies. It might sound like I’m overstating a fact here, but using you instead of I assumes others can relate to what you’re saying, which is a dangerous assumption AND disembodies and disowns what you’re saying about your own experiences. Example: "You just feel like you're lost." In this example the speaker feels like he/she is lost. When did "you" replace "I." Why are "we" afraid to say "I."....."I just feel like I'm lost." There's power in saying what YOU feel.
This might be getting picky, but why when there’s a group of people (even all women) do we say "Hey, you guys!" Hmmmm.
Last but not least….There is a common speech pattern which instantly makes you sound like you have no confidence and I invite you to stop right now…when one raises his/her voice at ends of sentences, as if asking a question but you’re actually making a statement. It conveys that the speaker is unsure of himself/herself and weakens credibility for the listener. Again, this is often habitual and hard to break, but can be done with time and attention.
Also, in general, there is a way in which most of ask when we don’t need to be asking but telling someone what we want! There is an underlying sense of apologizing for ourselves that can be very damaging. For example: I need something from a co-worker and I’ve already asked several times. It’s the difference between “Brad can you get those reports to me” and “Brad I need those reports. When will they be ready?” The 2nd option is, technically a question but there’s no choice but for Brad to tell me when he’ll get those reports to me. The first option gives room for a passive no from Brad.
There’s more than this, but I think working with these will make a substantial difference in your confidence and how you present yourself to others.