Words are powerful and should be chosen and spoken with care.
“What you say can affect how people perceive you,” explains Brian de Haaf, founder and CEO of Aha! in a recent LinkedIn post. “Ideally, the words you use will elevate you and motivate those around you. They should not hurt you or your relationships.”
One word in particular that can seriously tarnish your credibility (and one that the most successful people know better than to use) is “honestly.”
According to de Haaf, some people use this word to make a point, but most times it will instead raise a red flag and make your listeners question whether you’re telling the truth.
“To be credible, you should be straightforward every time. And when you are, no qualifier like ‘honestly’ is needed,” he says. “Authenticity is the only honesty you need.”
De Haaf says “honestly” is also the most “damaging word in business” because it creates distance.
Prefacing a statement with this word pushes people back, “making it harder for them to get close and to see your point,” he explains. “This approach harms your own relationship-building, let alone any argument that you are poised to make.”
Words matter, a lot — but your integrity matters more, de Haaf says. So don’t compromise it by “creating the chasm of a bad impression.” Instead, draw people in by being earnest in your interactions, he suggests.
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