Boost your self-worth by NOT saying these three things

Language is a powerful thing. Your choice of words – and what you say to yourself – can and does have a MASSIVE impact on your personal effectiveness and on your sense of self worth.

Here are three little self-worth destroyers that you might need to watch …


1) “No Problem”
“For goodness sake, what’s wrong with THIS?!” I hear you ask? We want to be seen as can-do people who like to just get on with it, don’t we?

Well (and I have my sister-in-law, Bryony, to thank for this observation) over-use of the phrase “no problem” undervalues what you do.

For example, suppose that a colleague asks you to do something for them and your response is, “no problem”. In essence what you’re saying is that what they’ve asked you to do will either take you no effort at all (which is very rarely the case) or that the effort you are going to take isn’t worth anything.

This can give a subtle but often entirely wrong message – for the most part if someone asks you to do something, it WILL take brain power or a bit of effort on your part. Why undervalue it?

Give the task – and yourself – some value by choosing a different form of words; “Consider it done”, for example, or simply, “Yes, I can do that”.


2) “Sorry”
My Uncle Bhailu in India used to say that the one word that the British over-use is “sorry”. And he’s right.

Of course, there are many times when it’s absolutely right to apologise, and I’m not suggesting that we follow Oscar Wilde’s maxim of “Never apologise and never explain”. That approach isn’t going to win you either friends or respect.

However, most of us often find ourselves apologising when we don’t need to … and over-apologising puts us down, psychologically.

Have you ever gone up to a colleague and said “sorry to bother you … sorry to interrupt … sorry to ask …”?? Why? If you need to speak to them, why put yourself down and position yourself as an inconvenience? Why not say something like, “Do you have a minute?” or, “May I quickly ask you something?”

I used to know someone who had quite a senior position within his organisation, but had got into a habit of beginning almost every utterance with the phrase, “Forgive me … ”

Whilst he might have thought that it lent him an air of humility, in fact, his over-use of the phrase made it seem that he was constantly grovelling. There was nothing to forgive … so why put himself down by starting with an apology?

I used to have the habit, if someone stood aside for me to pass or walk through a door, of scuttling through with my head lowered, muttering “Sorry”. Why?? Several years ago I told myself to look people in the eye and say “Thank you”, instead. So much better.


3) “No”
My young nephew Lukas is two. He’s not been well. His answer to absolutely every question at the moment is “No”. I put this to the test and offered him chocolate, but still got the same response.

Here’s the thing: He’d probably enjoy a little bit of chocolate, but he’s used to saying “No” as a habitual response to pretty much everything at the moment … and he’s missing out on some treats as a result.

How often do we find ourselves saying “no” to things and rationalising why we SHOULDN’T do something, when we could say “yes” and benefit from a new experience?

Stop saying “No” as a matter of habit, and start saying “Yes” to a few more things instead. See what happens.


Challenge yourself to consider some of the things that you say day in, day out, out of habit. Are they building you up, or little by little putting you down?


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3 Responses to “Boost your self-worth by NOT saying these three things”

  1. Liz at Libro Says:

    An excellent post (as always). I am a “no problem” culprit and I’m going to seriously look at that one – I am pleased that you give some alternatives!

    I made a policy of saying “yes” to new work areas I didn’t see as my core offering when I started my business: as long as I had an idea of how to do the work, and knew I could do it well, then “yes” added writing, transcription, typing and localisation to the proof-reading and editing I originally offered, which has led to a more diverse and interesting work flow for me and more stability and variety for my business. So I KNOW that one is worth it!

  2. AnnabelleB Says:

    That’s great, Liz! Many thanks for proving that a careful choice of vocabulary does indeed make a difference!

  3. Susan Grandfield Says:

    You are so right Anna! Language is a powerful thing and using simple, seemingly innocuous words like the 3 you describe can have a huge impact on our own mindset as well as the reactions if others.

    Years ago I banned the word ‘fine’ from my vocabulary, particularly when someone asks how I am. Saying ‘great’, ‘really well’ or even ‘fantastic’ has a positive effect on how I actually feel!

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