15 Words To Stop Saying Forever (With Better Words To Use Instead)

words have power

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Today I want to share some words to stop saying forever.

If you want to improve your confidence and how well you get your point across to others, this is for you!

Being listened to can also boost our wellbeing and using the right words can help us to be understood.

The words we use matter a lot.

It has taken me a lot of years to realise how powerful our choice of words can be.

Words don’t only have an impact when said out loud.  The words we say to ourselves also have a huge effect on how we feel.

I’m definitely guilty of using quite a few of these words to stop saying.  In fact, I had to review this post and remove a number of them!



15 words to stop saying forever


Here’s my list of 15 words to stop saying forever with some alternative words to use (although in some cases it’s best to remove the additional word altogether!)


1.  Always/Never


“I always do that”.

“He never helps me”.

What, always?  Never?  Are you sure?!

Both of these words are examples of ‘all or nothing’ thinking.

In the majority of cases, they aren’t true.  We are hardwired to spot the negatives rather than the positives, so it’s likely that we have forgotten or simply haven’t noticed the times he did help you out.

If you catch yourself using these words then ask yourself whether your statement is actually true.

In some cases, it may be so carry on.

If not, then try reframing your words.  You could say “I sometimes do that” (but I sometimes don’t) or “he helps me out but not as often as I’d like”.


2.  I Can’t


words to stop saying can't


Saying “I can’t” indicates a fixed mindset on a subject.

Consider why we say this.

Is it truly because we can’t or is it because we are fearful?  Or perhaps we don’t have the skills to do whatever it is right now, but we can learn them.

I’m a firm believer that you CAN do what you set your mind to.  How about those 90-year-olds who get in the news for doing a parachute jump?  They may have had doubts, but they certainly didn’t say ‘I can’t’.

Replace ‘I can’t’ with ‘I can’ (if I want to).

If you don’t want to do something, say you don’t want to or you choose not to, rather than you can’t.


For more tips and advice on words to stop saying and how to communicate assertively, I highly recommend The Assertiveness Communication Skills Masterclass which has hugely helped me personally.


3.  Should


Oh, how we beat ourselves up with all the things we think we ‘should’ be doing!

When we say that we should do something, the end result is often that we feel guilty or inadequate because we haven’t (as yet) done whatever it is we think we should be doing.

Replace the word ‘should’ with ‘choose’. (Or I choose not to).


[tweetshare tweet=”Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. -Pearl Strachan Hurd” username=”alisonw30″]


4.  Should Have


girl facing away from camera with knees up


This one feels even worse to me than ‘should’ on its own.


Because it implies regret as well as guilt.  And what’s the point of regrets really?  We can’t change what we did or said in the past, only learn from things for the future.

Replace this one with what you have learned from a situation or what you would do differently next time.


5.  Need

pink high heel sandals

Image from Pixistock


Do you (really) need the shoes or do you want them?

We use the words need and want interchangeably but they do mean different things.

In another context, need seems a bit like the word ‘should’ mentioned in point 3.

When we say ‘I need to do x,y,z’ it can make us feel guilty that we haven’t and put us under undue pressure.

I hear this a lot from coaching clients who say things like “I need to get more organised” or “I need to stop procrastinating”.

Keep ‘need’ for things that you truly do need (air, food, love) and use ‘want’ the rest of the time.


Boost your confidence fast by working with me.   Book your POWER HOUR now!



6.  Have To


A bit like I need to’, this feels as though we are relinquishing control and some outer force is making us ‘have to’ do something.

Replace with ‘I’m going to’ or ‘I’m planning to’.

Take back the control!


7.  Just


I’m guilty of using this one a lot!  It can make you sound unsure about what you are saying.

Consider “I just want to ask you about….” vs “I want to ask you about….”

Which one sounds the most assertive?

I will often edit emails to remove all the ‘justs’.  Removing it from the conversation is still a work in progress for me!

There isn’t an alternative word to use here, take the just out altogether!


“If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths. Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts. We can always replace negative with positive.” -Betty Eadie


8.  Try


Be more Yoda.

Do or do not, there is no try!


yoda statue


9.  Maybe


There are a couple of problems I see with the word ‘maybe’.

First of all, it can make you appear unconfident and indecisive.

Secondly, it doesn’t convey your honest answer and leaves room for doubt and misinterpretation.

Instead, if you really mean no, then simply say this instead.

The Assertive Communication Skills Masterclass contains a useful section on how to say no.



10.  Busy


desk covered with papers, pens, glasses and laptop

Image from Pixistock


Have you noticed how some people use their ‘busyness’ like a badge of honour?

“I have so much to do.  I worked late last night and I’ll be busy at the weekend too”.

That said, having worked in Human Resources I have noticed that the younger generation value their downtime much more, so perhaps the word ‘busy’ will disappear from our language at some point…

Ask yourself if you really are ‘too busy’ to do something.  Or is it really something you simply don’t want to do.  If so, then say no without giving excuses.  Or say you choose not to do whatever it is.

If it is something you want to do, then re-evaluate what else is going on in your life at the moment.

Is there something you could drop that is less useful or wastes time?  And don’t forget that we all need to take a break to recharge our batteries!


11.  But


This can make you sound unsure and also put others on the defensive.

Also, think about how you feel if someone replies to your suggestion with “yes but….”

Do you feel that what you have said is being considered or that it’s been dismissed?

A great word to use instead of but is and.

Consider “I know you want some help but I don’t have time right now” vs “I know you want some help and I can’t help right now, how about tomorrow?”

I know which I’d prefer to be on the receiving end of!


12.  I Have No Choice


woman shrugging


I’ve found myself saying this a few times lately.

Then someone pointed out to me a few days ago that we always have choices.  In my case asking others for help (although difficult) is what helps me see my other options.

Instead of saying I have no choice, ask who could help you or what advice you would give to a friend in this situation to unlock alternative courses of action.


13.  Um


This is one I’m personally finding really hard to remove!  Let’s be honest it’s distracting if it’s said too often and certainly doesn’t add anything to the conversation.

I’m trying (oh no THAT word) to slow down my speech and replace the ‘ums’ with a pause (i.e. silence) instead.


14.  Sorry


This isn’t a word to stop saying forever.  Instead, use it where it’s warranted.

We do (particularly women) have a tendency to overuse this word.  I’ve even said sorry when someone has bumped into me or trodden on my foot!  Sometimes I think I apologise simply for being me….

Consider ‘I’m sorry but can I just say this’ – loaded with insecurity and doubt!

Better to say the thing without apologising or asking for permission!


girl stop apologizing

Girl Stop Apologizing – Rachel Hollis


15.  Tired


woman with head in hands

Image from Pixistock


Another one I’m guilty of.

Have you ever noticed when you say you are tired that you feel even more tired?

Many of us are tired right now, it’s been a draining and relentless 12 months.

I’m going to commit to saying I’m tired much less often.  Instead, I will notice and acknowledge that I am tired and then I will do something to refresh and re-energise.

For example, If I am feeling tired and I go for a walk, eat something healthy or meditate I do find that my energy levels increase.  Rarely will I have a day where I feel totally wiped out for the full day.

So, instead of saying you are tired, acknowledge it, do something which replenishes you and then let saying “I’m feeling energised” be the words you say out loud.


There we have our list of 15 words to stop saying forever.  Which of these resonate with you the most? What other words would you add to this list?

Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Lori

    Guilty, guilty, and ummm, guilty! I think I will write these words down and post them above my computer. And on my bathroom mirror. And on the fridge. Sometimes I’m aware of saying them, and I’m sure there are plenty of times that I am completely unaware! Brilliant post, Alison, and thanks for the reminder that words matter!

  2. Chloe Chats

    Reading this made me realise how much I say pretty much all of those words! This is definitely something I need to work on. For my job as well because people call me up asking for help I have to sound as confident as possible even if I don’t know the answer, so that helps a little. But usually as soon as I’m out of work mode I go back to the ‘i can’t’ and the ‘ummm’. x

    1. Alison

      That’s really interesting that you can control it more at work. Wonder how you might transfer what you do at work to how you are outside of work? x

  3. A Big Girl in a Big City

    Oh my… I’m guilty for all of these words. I’m going to add a note on my desk to remind me not to say them. I just don’t know how feasible it is! “Should have” is probably in my priorities because there’s no point dwelling on the past and things you can’t change.
    Thanks for this great list x

  4. Jeannie

    Thanks for this! Sometimes UM becomes just an expression but in reality, it is like clearly having doubt or thinking about what to exactly say. Im always tired but never too tired too run, need to write these words down.

  5. Elle

    Loved reading this because honestly it’s all true 😂 ahaha some I’m quite guilty of using. I agree that words are very powerful and how we use them can actually say a lot about us. Thanks for sharing Alison! x

  6. Adriana

    Replacing “but” with “and” is a stroke of genius! I definitely have a lot of guilt around disappointing people when they ask for favours, so I’m using this from now on. Thank you!

  7. Alicia Hursley

    I totally just had a “I’m going to” instead of “I have to” moment. I’ve been slammed at work which is awesome, but then my daughter spilled her juice all over the couch and we are having company over this week. I wanted to clean it on my own, but I simply didn’t have the time. instead of saying “I have to bring in a professional upholstery cleaner” I said, “I’m going to bring in a professional upholstery cleaner to take care of this so I can focus on what I really need to do”. It was an amazing shift and I truly felt the difference. Thank you so much for sharing.

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