12 words or phrases that smart people never use

by Brendan Brown | April 22, 2024, 3:31 pm

Ever heard someone using big words and complicated phrases, thinking they sound smart?

Well, real smart people don’t do that.

They avoid certain words and phrases that might make them sound less believable or confuse other people.

In this article, we’re going to tell you about 12 things you won’t hear smart people saying.

If you want to sound clever, get your point across clearly, or just be a better talker, keep reading. 

1. “Literally”

Have you ever heard someone say something like, “I was literally dying of laughter,”?

This phrase is often used to add dramatic effect, but it’s not exactly accurate, is it?

Smart people avoid using “literally” in a figurative context because it can confuse their listeners. Instead, they opt for words that accurately describe what they mean.

So, instead of saying you’re “literally dying of laughter,” you might say you were “laughing so hard tears were streaming down your face.”

It’s more accurate and paints a clearer picture too!

2. “Irregardless”

Though you might hear this word often, it’s actually not a real word.

People tend to use “irregardless” when they mean “regardless.”

Smart people stay away from this non-word because it can confuse others and make their message unclear.

Remember to just stick with “regardless” when you want to say that something is true or will happen no matter what.

It’s simpler, clearer, and will make you sound more knowledgeable too!

3. “To be honest”

This phrase is a trap I used to fall into a lot.

“To be honest, I don’t really like that movie,” or “To be honest, I prefer tea over coffee.”

It seemed like a good way to share my thoughts. But then I realized, it was implying that I was not being honest before!

Smart people avoid this phrase because it can make others question their sincerity.

Now, I just say what I mean without adding “to be honest.” It sounds much better to say, “I don’t really like that movie,” or “I prefer tea over coffee.”

It’s straightforward and there’s no question about whether or not I’m being honest.

4. “I Can’t”

Smart people avoid saying “I can’t” because it closes the door on possibilities and can come across as pessimistic.

Saying “I can’t” can limit your potential and hinder your growth. Instead, they choose to say, “I’ll find a way,” or “I’ll try.”

Here’s an interesting fact: Research from Stanford University showed that having a ‘growth mindset’ – believing that you can learn, improve, and overcome challenges – leads to greater success in life.

So, ditch the “I can’t” and embrace the power of positive thinking!

5. “I know everything”

Nobody knows everything – and that’s okay!

The smartest people are usually the ones who admit that they still have a lot to learn. This doesn’t make them seem weak or ignorant; rather, it shows a strength of character and a willingness to grow.

Saying “I know everything” can close you off to new experiences, knowledge, and perspectives. It’s like shutting a book before you’ve finished reading it.

Life is a continual journey of learning and discovery, and acknowledging that fact doesn’t make us less smart; it makes us more human and more ready to face whatever comes our way.

6. “Always” or “Never”

I’ve learned that using absolute terms like “always” or “never” can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary conflicts.

For example, saying “You never listen to me,” or “You’re always late,” tends to put people on the defensive and closes off productive conversation.

Now, I try to express my feelings without resorting to these absolutes. Instead of saying, “You never listen to me,” I might say, “I feel unheard when we discuss this issue.”

It’s more accurate, less confrontational, and opens the door for better understanding and communication.

Remember, smart people avoid absolutes because they understand that life is rarely black and white.

7. “That’s not fair”

Let’s keep it real. Life isn’t always fair, and smart people know this.

Complaining about it doesn’t change the situation or make things any easier. In fact, it can make you seem immature or unable to handle adversity.

When things don’t go our way, it’s tempting to cry out, “That’s not fair!”

But life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes things just don’t go as planned.

Smart people understand this and instead of whining about how unfair life is, they adapt and grow. They roll with the punches and turn setbacks into comebacks.

Next time you’re tempted to say “That’s not fair,” remember: Life isn’t about fairness, it’s about resilience.

8. “I’m entitled”

The phrase “I’m entitled” can imply an expectation of special treatment or privileges, which can come across as arrogant or out of touch.

Smart people generally avoid this phrase because they understand that respect and opportunities are often earned, not given.

According to a study, individuals who feel entitled are more likely to break rules, have conflictual relationships, and exhibit manipulative and exploitative behavior.

So, instead of saying “I’m entitled,” consider phrases like “I’ve worked hard for…” or “I’ve earned…”

They’re more accurate and less likely to rub people the wrong way.

9. “I don’t have time”

This used to be a go-to phrase of mine when I was overwhelmed or didn’t want to do something.

“I don’t have time to read,” or “I don’t have time to exercise.”

But then, I realized that it wasn’t about having time, it was about making time.

When you say you don’t have time, it’s often a sign that you’re not prioritizing effectively.

Now, instead of saying “I don’t have time,” I say, “I need to prioritize my time better.”

This phrase is a reminder that time is in my control and that I need to consider my choices and priorities carefully. It’s much more empowering and less dismissive than simply saying, “I don’t have time.”

10. “It’s not my fault”

Blaming others and refusing to take responsibility is a surefire way to lose respect.

Smart people avoid saying “It’s not my fault,” even if it truly wasn’t.

Instead, they focus on finding solutions and learning from the situation. They understand that blame doesn’t fix problems; action does.

11. “This may be a dumb question…”

Smart people don’t belittle themselves or their questions. They know that the only dumb question is the one not asked.

If you want to learn, grow, and improve, you need to ask questions – even if you think they may be simple or obvious.

12. “I hate…”

Hate is a strong word that can alienate others and close off dialogue.

Smart people choose their words carefully and avoid extreme negative statements like “I hate…”

Instead, they express their dislikes or disagreements in a more balanced way, promoting understanding rather than conflict.

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