If you want to make a lasting impression, avoid these 19 phrases

by Brendan Brown | March 25, 2024, 1:09 pm

You know that feeling when you meet someone, and they leave such a deep mark on you that you can’t forget them? That’s the magic of a lasting impression—a positive one anyway.

It’s more than just being remembered—it’s about leaving a trace that provokes thought, evokes emotion, and sparks inspiration. 

To make a lasting impression, your words and actions need to resonate, creating a symphony that reverberates in the hearts and minds of others. 

But like any symphony, there can be off-notes, phrases that hit the wrong cord, and that’s what we’re going to explore today.

Making a lasting impression isn’t only about what you should do, it’s equally about what you should avoid. When you use off-putting words or say things that offend people, it’ll backfire and you’ll either make zero impression or people will remember you for the wrong reasons. 

There are off-key phrases that might be undermining your ability to make a lasting impression. Remember, the goal isn’t to make you self-conscious—it’s to empower you to communicate in a way that reflects your authentic self.

So here are phrases to avoid in order to make a lasting impression that’s a good one… 

1) “I’m just…” 

Starting sentences with “I’m just…” can often diminish the weight of your words and make you seem less confident

It suggests you’re undermining your own worth. Instead of saying “I’m just an intern,” try saying “I’m currently an intern, learning the ropes and contributing to the team.”

That “just” can be detrimental to how others perceive you!

2) “Sorry, but…” 

Apologizing when you’ve done nothing wrong gives the impression that you’re timid or insecure. 

Women tend to make this mistake far too often. Why do we apologize so much? Sometimes it comes from years of being conditioned to be polite. Good at its core, but truly not necessary unless you’re truly apologizing when you’ve wronged someone. 

Stand by your opinions and ideas. Rather than saying “Sorry, but I think…” you can say “I believe that…”

3) “This might be a dumb question, but…” 

By prefacing your question with this phrase, you’re underselling your intelligence. 

Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question. It’s better to say, “Can you clarify that for me?”

4) “It’s not my fault.” 

This phrase can make you appear defensive and unwilling to take responsibility. 

Instead, focus on finding a solution to the issue at hand, saying something like “Let’s figure out how we can rectify this.”

5) “I don’t know.” 

It’s okay not to have all the answers. But if you want to make a lasting impression, replace this phrase with “I’m not sure, but I can find out,” which shows initiative and willingness to learn.

6) “That’s not my job.” 

This phrase can come across as uncooperative or disinterested. 

If a task isn’t within your role, try to find a more constructive way to express it.

7) “You’re wrong.” 

Directly telling someone they’re wrong can create conflict. 

Propose an alternative viewpoint instead or ask questions that guide them to a different conclusion.

8) “I told you so.” 

While it may be tempting to point out when you were right, this phrase can come off as arrogant or condescending.

This may create a lasting impression, but not a good one you’d want. 

9) “That’s impossible.” 

This phrase shuts down possibilities and can seem defeatist. It’s more constructive to discuss challenges and potential solutions.

In life, don’t be a nay-sayer. Instead, be a positive thinker who encourages others.

10) “I don’t care.” 

This suggests indifference and can be hurtful or offensive. 

If you’re uninterested or disagree, find a more sensitive way to express your thoughts.

Sometimes this phrase can come out because you’re trying to connect with someone by bonding over your indifference. In that case, follow up the sentence with more detail to make that connection.

An example would be, “I don’t care. Are you on the same boat?” Then, consider your tone. Make sure it’s humble one. 

11) “It’s always been done this way.” 

This phrase can stifle innovation and creativity. Embrace new ideas and avoid getting stuck in outdated routines.

Of all the phrases on this article, I hate this one the most. It shoots ideas down before they can be brought to life. 

The person who would say this phrase should also consider that other factors can change the outcome for the better this time around.

12) “I don’t have time for this.” 

It’s dismissive and can make the other person feel unimportant. 

If you’re busy, propose a different time or delegate the task.

This phrase also makes it sound like you think you and you alone are the most important person around. That’s just not the case. Be open and respectful to other people’s time, not just yours. 

13) “You always…” or “You never…” 

These absolutes can feel like an attack and are often inaccurate. 

Focus on the specific behavior or situation instead.

By starting your sentences with these phrases, you’re also making judgments on people and putting them in a box they don’t believe they’re in. 

14) “It’s not fair.” 

While you may feel like you’re being treated unfairly, this phrase can come across as whiny or immature. Instead, explain your feelings or viewpoint in a calm, reasoned manner.

I don’t know about you, when I hear “it’s not fair,” I automatically close off because it sounds like complaining. 

15) “This may be a stupid question but…” 

This phrase undermines your own credibility. If you’re unsure about something, just ask. 

It’s better to seek clarity than remain confused.

And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question. If you are wondering about something or have a concern, asking is not a dumb move. It’s a smart one! 

16) “I guess…” 

This phrase can make you seem uncertain or indecisive. If you’re not sure, take the time to think things through or seek more information.

17) “No offense, but…” 

This phrase is often followed by something offensive. 

Have a critique? Deliver it respectfully and constructively without the disclaimer.

18) “Whatever.” 

Assuming you’ve seen the movie “Clueless,” you know exactly how this word comes out when said. It’s typically delivered with a not-so-nice tone. 

This phrase can come off as dismissive or indifferent. It’s better to communicate your thoughts or feelings clearly.

19) “I can’t.” 

This phrase suggests defeat before you’ve even started. 

Even if a task seems difficult, look for potential ways to tackle it or seek assistance.

The words, “I can’t,” have also become quite on-trend. People say it to denote when they can’t or don’t want to deal with a topic. The same notion goes—it won’t make a lasting positive impression when said. 

Each of these phrases, when used sincerely, can help you make a lasting impression. 

They truly promote constructive and respectful dialogue, showing others that you value their perspectives and appreciate their contributions. 

However, the way you say them is just as important as the words themselves. Deliver these phrases with genuine warmth and curiosity to enhance their impact.

Here are phrases you should say to make a lasting impression

Now, for what to actually say… If you want to make a positive lasting impression, here are the phrases you should keep in mind: 

  • I appreciate your perspective.” 
  • “Tell me more about that.” 
  • “I completely agree, and here’s why…” 
  • “That’s an interesting point. I hadn’t considered it from that angle.”
  • “What’s your opinion on this?” 
  • “I can see why you would say that.” 
  • “I’d love to learn more about your work/experiences.” 
  • “Your efforts really made a difference.” 
  • “I’m inspired by your dedication/passion/knowledge.” 
  • “I’m looking forward to our next meeting/discussion.” 
  • “You’ve given me a lot to think about.” 
  • “I admire your ability to…” 
  • “Your insights have been truly helpful.” 

No matter what you say remind yourself, it’s not about creating a façade or meticulously calculating every word you utter. Making a lasting impression is about communicating with authenticity and respect. 

Consider your words as the brushstrokes in the art of impression-making

Each word adds a hue, a texture, and when chosen with thoughtfulness, they come together to create a masterpiece that’s hard to forget.

How to make a lasting impression

So, how can we create this masterpiece? How do we make a lasting impression that reflects our authentic self? The secret is simple—show genuine interest in others, listen attentively, be respectful, and stay true to your values. 

Keep the focus on the person you’re talking to, engage with their ideas, and offer your insights without dominating the conversation.

Each interaction you create is unique and requires authenticity and attentiveness. But by avoiding the phrases noted at the beginning of this article, you can steer clear of common pitfalls and come across as confident and genuinely interested in others.

By following the phrases you should say (in the second section of this story), you’ll be leaving a mark that’s as lasting as it is positive.

So here’s to making lasting impressions—the kind that echo in people’s minds, encouraging them to remember you as someone remarkable.

Following these tips will also help boost your confidence and enrich your social circle, so take note. It’s time to raise the baton and start conducting the symphony of impression-making. Your masterpiece awaits!

Related: 13 questions you should never ask someone (because it’s not really your business)

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