Things Successful Leaders Avoid Saying (Part 17)

I’ve brought up this topic before, but the importance of being clear in your communication can not be over-emphasized. There’s a subtle vocal tick careful leaders avoid using–“honestly.” Often we use this word to get the listeners attention and emphasize our message. As a communicator, you lose agency when you begin conversations with phrases that indicate you’ve been withholding information. If you’re interested in seeing the other posts on this topic, you can find them here and here.

Other variations of the word “honestly” include:

  • To be frank…
  • I’ll be real with you…
  • I’m going to be straight with you…
  • Let me level with you…
  • To tell you the truth…
  • Let me be candid with you…

The above casual words and phrases can come across negatively. For example:

  • I’ve been dishonest up until now.
  • Before this moment, I haven’t trusted you enough.
  • I’ve been lying, but now you can trust me.
  • Until now, I’ve been hiding something.

Of course we don’t intend to imply we have been lying. So instead of using “honestly” or its variations, be clear about your objective.

If you haven’t been upfront with someone, try using these phrases:

  • “I haven’t told you everything about this yet, and I should have.”
  • “It’s been hard for me to say out loud…”
  • “I’ve been nervous to share this; here’s something…”
  • “Maybe I’ve been fooling myself lately, because I haven’t brought this up yet….”

If you’re about to say “honestly” or one of its variations, pause. Be candid from the beginning, or if you haven’t, try sharing your intentions and push ahead. See what happens.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

To read the previous posts about “Things Successful Leaders Avoid Saying,” click on the links below.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16

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