Creative commentary plus crafty composition


A pair of short articles in the current issue of Toastmaster magazine point out foibles which can undercut our attempts at positive influence with others.

Under the umbrella of ‘phrases that sabotage success’ are five expressions heard commonly, often spoken by people of power and influence, in speeches or sound bytes.  When held up to the light, the weak image they shed becomes more obvious…

  • ‘To Be Honest’: a phrase used by many in the political sphere (one running for U.S. President particularly comes to mind), the obvious implication is that what has been said previously may not have been honest discourse
  • ‘I mean…’: frequently used as an audible pause or filler, as the speaker tries to keep their thought coherent, but which comes across as somewhat unprofessional
  • ‘Passion’: tends to be overused as a catch-all anchor implying strong dedication, in lieu of more diverse and specific qualities in context
  • ‘Again…’: easy to use excessively, especially as a filler, taking away from potential impact if used in emphasizing a point
  • ‘That’s not a bad idea…’: expressing an observation in a way which undercuts a more positive perspective, such as by simply saying ‘That’s a good idea’

For leaders, there are three notable “non-verbal cues that can seriously damage your credibility”:

  • Making Yourself Small: social research indicates that our body language is important to both confidence and credibility; protective and closed-in gestures affect our hormones, reducing feelings of confidence, and thus impacting non-verbal responses, renewing the cycle; opening up one’s arms and stance increases confidence; being more aware and deliberate about body language helps one to look strong, assisting feelings of confidence; as a suggestion, when in a gathering try to check one’s posture every fifteen minutes
  • Not in a good seat: neither oneself or nor others should be forced to sit on the sidelines at a meeting; everyone should belong at the table, and have a seat there, or else not be in the room; building confidence or engagement doesn’t happen by leaving people on the sidelines
  • Letting Stress Show: being told that one looks stressed is not a compliment or a badge of honour; being late, fidgeting, and multitasking in meetings are indicators; “Calm and collected breeds confidence”

Listening to one’s own body clearly is beneficial insofar as behaving to enhance credibility.








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